David Ross; no longer a Brave Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

David Ross To Sign With Red Sox

Say It Ain’t So Frank

Braves fans will mourn this mornings news that their favorite backup catcher and all around great guy David Ross is reported by Ken Rosenthal – Update: and confirmed by Ross via Mark Bowman -to be signing a two year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

The 35 year old Ross was thought to be a certain return to Atlanta next year and fans will certainly want to know how Frank Wren and the Braves front office allowed Ross to get away. UPDATE EDIT: The Red Sox are paying Ross $6.2 Million over the next two years. The Braves payroll doesn’t allow that luxury for a backup catcher when there are so many out there.

Ross is considered by most to be the best number two catcher in the game and has performed superbly while in Atlanta helping Brian McCann with his defense as well as guiding a young pitching staff and delivering some key hits for the Braves.  He was well known as a practical joker and a great clubhouse presence providing leadership to a young team.

2009 151 18 35 7 20 .273 .380 .508 .888 133
2010 145 15 35 2 28 .289 .392 .479 .871 136
2011 171 14 40 6 23 .263 .333 .428 .761 107
2012 196 18 45 9 23 .256 .321 .449 .770 105
ATL (4 yrs) 663 65 155 24 94 .269 .353 .463 .816 119
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/10/2012

Been There Before

Ross spent a short time with the Red Sox in 2008 after being released by the Reds and John Farrell was pitching coach at that time. Farrell  probably sees Ross as a mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia though this might also clear the way for a trade of Salty and the promotion their top catching prospect Ryan LavarnwayJarrod Saltalamacchia will almost certainly be traded as Ben Cherrington  has been trying to move him since July according to Jim Bowden.  Whatever the Red Sox motivation, Braves fans will want and explanation that doesn’t include the words indicate they weren’t willing to offer him a matching contract. The Cubs might well be Salty’s landing spot as they are in need of a catcher and Theo Epstein tried three time to get Salty before landing him for Boston. The Red Sox might well accept a healthy Matt Garza in exchange but that’s for the Sox and Cubs to sort out. For the Braves the question is. . .

What Now?

Brian McCann’s surgery means that he likely won’t be available until at least May and maybe later next season. The Braves heir apparent catching prospect Christian Bethancourt is at least a year and maybe two away. His defense is solid but his hitting has not yet developed enough to throw him into the caldron on major league baseball.  The free agent market has plenty of names but many are not a fit in Atlanta. You can find a complete listing on MLB Trade Rumors.  Here are some quick and thoughts from just glancing at the list.

Mike Napoli will instantly be rumored to be on our radar because that’s what pundits and fans do; go to the hottest name on the list.  Unless the Braves plan to trade McCann however, Napoli isn’t a good fit. He’s an everyday player limited to first and catching. With Freddie Freeman at first and without an unlikely though theoretically possible trade of McCann napoli is a not coming to Atlanta.

Dioner Navarro (28) caught 24 games for the Reds last year and seems a nice fit. He’s right handed and has a good history of throwing out runners – 136 of 459, about 30%.  His numbers suggest he would be snapped up but for some reason in a year when catchers moved around like pony express riders he couldn’t hold a job. The Reds paid him $1M last year and that would probably secure his services this year.

Miguel Olivo is another possibility. The RH hitting 34 year old doesn’t hit for much average but did deliver 12 homers in 87 games for Seattle last year and is good catch and throw man.  he earned $3.25M last year but at 34 can’t expect that much as a back up in 2013.

UPDATE EDIT: Here’s some comparison offensive data for selected options from Fangraphs.

Kelly Shoppach 76 245 51 8 23 27 1 7% 36% .192 .352 .233 .309 .425
Dioner Navarro 24 73 20 2 6 12 0 3% 16% .159 .321 .290 .306 .449
Miguel Olivo 87 323 70 12 27 29 3 2% 26% .159 .266 .222 .239 .381
Ronny Paulino 20 64 16 0 5 5 0 2% 14% .048 .296 .254 .266 .302


Also on the market and possibilities are Ronny Paulino, Humberto Quintero, Brian Schneider and Kelly Shoppach. At first blush I’d lean towards Navaro who should be fully recovered from surgery on his non-throwing arm this year and is young enough to fill the void should Bethancourt not materialize. Olivio would be second choice for now. Nothing else out there catches my eye.

That’s A Wrap

Ross’ departure is a punch in the gut to a team losing the leadership of Chipper Jones and who has their All Star catcher unavailable for at least a month and maybe more. two things are one thing is certain J.C. Boscan is not the answer and shouldn’t even be in the conversation and 2) fans will want to know from the GM exactly how they lost Ross.


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  • Lee Trocinski

    I think Shoppach could be another Ross, but just a step down defensively. He has raw power and while his BB rate isn’t the greatest, he gets hit by pitches enough to make up for it. The K’s are really high, but he’s been average offensively in his career, so I like him the most. Navarro’s ability to switch-hit is nice, but he hasn’t been the offensive player Shoppach has.

    Also, I just saw it’s $6.2M total for Ross. It’s about as much as one should spend for a backup, but I can see why Wren wouldn’t give him that much.

    • fireboss

      I agree on the money. When I saw 6.2M I understood Ross’ decision. I haven’t looked that deeply at most of the options yet but I’d be inclined to go with a guy like Navarro who is younger in the event they trade Mac or he gets injured again. Ross could play everyday and I know Shoppach did for the Mets but a quick look at Navarro’s past tell me he can hit and catch but it appears he was injured and played that way too long. Last year’s numbers with the Reds were good but they had their star prospect Mesoraco to bring up and Hannigan had been in the system a while, knew the pitchers and was under contract through 13 for what they paid Navarro. So they kept him and let Navarro – who had better numbers than either Hannigan or Mesaroco go.

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  • aRunning_Maniac

    Well, the start to this off-season has not exactly been the most promising. So far, the Braves have picked up a very questionable option in McCann, which was a fat $12 MM of loot (money that could have been used in a potentially more beneficial manner, or at the very least allowed us even more financial flexibility). They have claimed Jordan Schafer off of waivers, and have now lost the best backup catcher in baseball who also happened to be one of the Braves’ primary leaders. This will now create yet another hole, one of many that Frank Wren will have to attempt plugging before the start of the next season. LF, CF, 3B, and C are positions that currently hold question marks above them, and I’m afraid that’s going to be far too much for Mr. Wren to competently handle. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling taht this is just the beginning to a very long and rough off-season.

    • Lee Trocinski

      If you don’t pick up McCann’s option, you have to sign Pierzynski, Martin, or Napoli for nearly the same amount, which eliminates the flexibility. There’s nothing wrong with putting Schafer in Constanza’s spot, and it’s tough to spend $3M a year for two years on a backup catcher, though Ross is as close to that player as they come.

      Either 3B or LF will not have a question mark with Prado there, while the other one does. I don’t think this will be a bad offseason, but it might not go as well as we hoped initially.

      • aRunning_Maniac

        Yeah, Pierzynski or Martin would have been better options than McCann; both are healthy and in shape. Blowing $12 mil on an injured McCann is not the wisest of choices, at least in my opinion. And I’m not sure how you could consider Schafer a better fit than Constanza. I mean, I’m not a big fan of Constanza, but at least the dude makes contact with the ball. Schafer, however, is either striking out or hitting fly balls, both obviously being completely useless when one of his best tools is speed. But whatever, what’s done is done, and Schafer still has the potential to be a solid CF/leadoff man. And yes, Prado will prove once again just how valuable he is to the Braves by giving Wren and Co. the ability to choose the best option available, whether it be for a young 3B prospect like Castellanos or Olt, or a power-hitting left-fielder like J. Upton. I doubt any of the three of those will come to pass, but one can dream, right? Whatever the case, Prado has provided the Braves flexibility in that regard. It will certainly be an interesting year, for better or for worse.

        • Lee Trocinski

          Giving up on a consistent hitter because of one injury-plagued season is usually not a good idea. Mauer had a poor (by his standards) season in ’11, then bounced back with a .416 OBP this past year. Victor Martinez had a bad ’08, then rebounded with three great seasons. $12M is a lot of money, but if McCann takes his time with the rehab, I think he will return to his old levels.

          • aRunning_Maniac

            I’m not questioning McCann’s ability to hit the ball, I’m questioning his overall ability as a backstop, as well as his true value to this team. McCann has not aged well, and he’s never been a very good catcher defensively. Even if McCann returns to form next year offensively, I still don’t feel he would be worth these kind of paychecks. Remember, having a backstop that can put up good offensive numbers is nothing more than a luxury, it’s not a necessity… teams can win championships without power-hitting catchers. I think the Braves need to prioritize their efforts and finances towards other areas of the club, rather than worrying about Brian McCann’s future as an Atlanta Brave. If the Braves stick with McCann (long-term) they will be crippling their chances to truly improve the team. They can’t acquire impact players if they continue to hand out the dollars to players like him and Dan Uggla.

          • Lee Trocinski

            Teams can win with any position being so-so offensively; look at this year’s Giants. Belt was not up to first base standards. Blanco was a below-average hitter in left. At SS, Crawford was about as bad of a hitter as any everyday player. Meanwhile, they had that Posey guy behind the plate.

            McCann may not be Molina behind the plate, but he isn’t Piazza either. He throws out an average number of runners and doesn’t hurt the team defensively, especially if you believe in the new framing values. The Yankees won championships with a mediocre Posada behind the dish, though he had plenty of help. If McCann doesn’t hit this year, he’ll either be gone or re-signed for cheap.