With the impending loss of David Ross, the Braves are now looking for a quality back-up catcher. This is usually not a big deal, but with Brian McCann‘s injury likely leaving him out of the lineup until May, the Braves need a catcher able to hit enough to play everyday. Here are a few guys that could fill that role.
Dioner Navarro – The switch-hitting 29-year-old is coming off a decent season as the backup for the Reds. However, over the past four years, he’s hit a poor .215/.270/.323, and I’m not sure if that’s enough to warrant the main backup spot. He is better from the right side, which serves well when McCann comes back.
- Kelly Shoppach – The 33-year-old is a three-true-outcome guy, especially when you include his ability to get hit by pitches. Over the past four years, he’s hit .206/.307/.380, showing the strikeouts and good power.
- Yorvit Torrealba – The 34-year-old has been on the decline the past couple years, but has still hit .268/.323/.378 the past four seasons. He doesn’t wow you with any skill, but he doesn’t hurt you either.
- Gerald Laird – The 33-year-old has adjusted to the backup role the past couple years, but has hit .231/.299/.329 the past four years. While his CS% is 35% for his career, he’s only thrown out 19% the past two years.
- Chris Snyder – The 32-year-old has been hampered by injuries and high strikeout totals the last few years. He’s hit .205/.323/.355 the past four years, but his worst season was this past year for Houston.
- Rod Barajas – The 37-year-old had a terrible 2012, so he may be a stretch for this spot. He’s hit .225/.277/.405 the past four years, but much worse this past year. He also only threw out 6 of 99 baserunners this year, though Pittsburgh pitchers are not known for holding runners.
- Miguel Olivo – The 34-year-old probably possesses the worst plate discipline in the game, striking out six times for every walk, leading to a .241/.276/.427 line the past four years. He has enough power to warrant a job, but that is also sliding.
I did not include Mike Napoli, Russell Martin, or A.J. Pierzynski in this list, since they will likely command full-time positions, and the Braves don’t have the money to pay for such a player unless they trade McCann. Out of the list above, I would personally take Shoppach or Laird, with Navarro and Torrealba at the next tier. Losing Ross is a tough blow, but losing a backup catcher should not be a season killer.