This offseason the Atlanta Braves made a splashy free-agent signing at catcher. We take a look at some of the factors that went into the decision to choose the Braves.
This offseason, the Atlanta Braves had several key positions to address in free agency. One glaring hole was left by the retirement of Brian McCann. Tyler Flowers was brought back on a one-year deal but the Braves needed a partner for him.
d’Arnaud ended up assuming a role as a leader, a middle-order-bat, and a reliable defensive presence on a team that won 96 games in Tampa Bay.
He was the primary catcher for an elite-pitching staff while slashing .263/.323/.459 with 16 homers. Travis helped lead the Rays to Game 5 of the ALDS in 2019 before heading off into free agency.
Why the Braves?
Alex Anthopoulos says the Braves have had their eyes on Travis for a while, but never seemed to have a “clean fit” until this past offseason.
In an interview with Fox Sports South (above), d’Arnaud said one reason he chose Atlanta was his familiarity with Sal Fasano, the Braves catching coach.
Fasano was d’Arnaud’s coach in 2011 and they believe that the reunion could bring Travis back up to elite-framing levels. Tyler Flowers is already rated among the best in the game and Travis has always had the reputation of being a very good defensive catcher.
The combination of Fasano, Flowers, and d’Arnaud could lead to another top ten WAR season by Braves’ catchers.
I would like to take this time to remind you that Tyler Flowers has been the best pitch framer in the game since 2016, and it’s not even close.
As he said in the video, Travis believes this team is championship quality without any holes. Travis, helped fill one of those holes when he signed with the Braves.
Travis has a young family to take care of and had heard that the Braves are mindful of players’ families. He also mentioned that he spoke to his older brother, Chase d’Arnaud, who played for the Braves in 2016 and 2017.
Recently I spoke with Chase on the Tomahawk Take Podcast and asked him what he told Travis about playing for the Braves.
“I told Trav that it’s one of the most family-oriented organizations I had ever been with. While I was there, everybody was very mindful of people’s situations with their families. That’s really important to me, especially as a father now. In the big leagues a lot of players that are older and have more time, and family is important to them, they’re fathers. So, teams that are accomodating in that respect…it goes a long way. Sure, I got excited when he signed with the Braves.”
Chase went on to add,
“He was asking me some questions and that was the main thing I kept repeating over and over, it’s super family-oriented, full of great people.”
You can hear the full podcast with Chase d’Arnaud in the link below.
It’s always great to hear that the Braves are a family-oriented club whose reputation is attractive to big-name free agents like Travis d’Arnaud. Whatever the reasons he ultimately decided to join the Braves, we are glad he did.
Certainly, the two years, $16 million they were offering didn’t hurt. You have to remember, this year’s group of free-agent catchers were very slim after Grandal and d’Arnaud.
I’m looking forward to seeing this tandem in action once we get this 2020 season underway!