Get to Know the Newest Atlanta Brave: Travis d’Arnaud

The Braves continue to strike. Three out of the four free agents that have been signed so far have been by Atlanta. You know about the two relievers, and this time it’s solidifying the catcher position. So Travis d’Arnaud and Flowers will now handle the catching duties.

If you didn’t follow d’Arnaud career resurgence in Tampa Bay last year, you’d probably be fairly underwhelmed with the signing. After all, he’s had some lackluster tenures in recent history. In 2016, he had a .629 OPS as a 27-year old for the Mets. He went down with Tommy John in 2018 for an essentially lost season, and started so poorly for the Mets in 2019 that he was DFA’ed.

The Dodgers picked him up, but 5 days later, they sent him to the Rays for cash. But after two teams gave up on his last year, the Rays, desperate for offense at the time and missing their starting catcher Mike Zunino, plugged him in and he hit. He finished his stint with the Rays appearing in 92 games, only 4 at DH, and hitting .263/.323/.459 for a .782 OPS.

That’s the Travis d’Arnaud I hope the Braves are bringing over. Health has always been a concern with d’Arnaud as 112 games is a career high for the 31-year old. But I think the ideal scenario for d’Arnaud is getting about 120 games out of him with Tyler Flowers being a true backup. The two catchers, for their respective teams, appeared in 177 total games and contributed a total of 3.7 fWAR. You’re looking at around a little less than a 3.5 fWAR duo over 162 games should they both stay healthy.

It’s also worth noting that Fangraphs and Baseball Reference do not have as wide of a disparity in their WAR evaluations for d’Arnaud as they do for Flowers. d’Arnaud amassed 1.6 fWAR and 1.0 bWAR. Flowers, on the other hand, was clocked with a 2.1 fWAR and -0.1 bWAR, mostly because of the value given to pitch framing. Should d’Arnaud be able to gain any additional value in being on the same catching unit as Flowers and learning better pitch framing techniques, d’Arnaud could enjoy a similar bump in his fWAR, and the fan can then make their decision about which WAR they’d like to believe. Either way, pitch framing is undoubtedly a net benefit, so hopefully we’ll see better value in pitch framing.

Regardless, the Braves now have $12M committed to their catching duo this year, up from $8M last year (with Flowers’ $2M buyout added to that total). Overall, I’m happy with the signing as d’Arnaud will be another veteran on a team with plenty of youngsters, and if he can stay healthy, he’s in the top half of offensive catchers in the game even if he can’t quite match last year’s performance with the Rays. As long as the Braves don’t court all of the d’Arnaud brothers and bring Chase back to Atlanta, I’ll remain happy.

22 thoughts on “Get to Know the Newest Atlanta Brave: Travis d’Arnaud”

  1. The 40 man roster is full now. Someone, probably John Ryan Murphy, is going to get dropped. Braves won’t carry 5 catchers on the 40. Or a trade that clears space has to occur.

  2. I like the strategy so far. They are whittling away at the question marks until there are just a couple left, maybe one if the question mark is where to make a big addition, which there is room at 3B, SP, or even the OF.

    I just hope that we don’t enter a long silence between now and February now that we’ve made a major upgrade [to the bullpen] and signed a catcher. ;-)

  3. I’d expect the Braves will sign either Rendon, JD or Moustakas unless they make a big trade for Bryant, Chapman or somebody. I don’t think they feel comfortable starting the year with Riley/Camargo unless they get a huge OF bat. And then they’ll add a vet starter, but the who remains a question. I like Ryu, Hamels and Wood if we can’t get wheeler. I’m happy going into the season with our current OF and then seeing if waters or pache are ready to come up mid season and how they do. If they aren’t ready you can look for OF help at the deadline.

  4. @5 I would not be surprised if that were the case, though. They way I see this working out is AA pouncing on the best opportunity to fill each hole and being patient for that opportunity to work itself out.

    I like DOB’s quote about what D’Arnaud said about Atlanta. That Travis talked to Chase about it and Chase had nothing but positive things to say about the franchise and the players. It always helps when you feel like you’re rooting for the good guys.

  5. Pouncing early is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned — first-mover advantage is real. Even if we overpaid for Martin, I’m very happy with AA prioritizing the bullpen, and I think d’Arnaud is a good solution at backstop.

    Now we’ve spent a few nickels and dimes but nothing I’d really describe as serious money. Time to go get stupid and give a truckload of simoleons to Cole or Rendon.

  6. I had wondered if there were positive d’Arnaud family vibes when the news broke. That’s cool to hear. Of course, it’s not like anyone else was clamoring for Chase d’Arnaud to join their team, so he should be pretty happy with Atlanta.

  7. Yeah, I don’t think any of these moves individually are earth-shattering, other than being impressed that AA has gotten out in front. It’ll ultimately come down to whether JD and Keuchel are replaced to properly evaluate the offseason.

    With that said, Will Smith is a huge upgrade in the pen. Having Chris Martin for a full season is a big upgrade. Travis d’Arnaud is an upgrade over Brian McCann. As long as these upgrades aren’t meant to cover the downgrades from JD to, say, Johan Camargo or Keuchel to, say, Kyle Wright, then they are significant upgrades.

  8. Chase D’Arnaud was a cromulent utility guy for a little while on some bad mid 2010s Braves teams. That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while.

  9. Where did Sam go? I was pretty dang spotty in my attendance around here over the second half of the season (and completely MIA for a month after the playoffs), but I totally missed that he wasn’t around!

  10. @10 I’m sure that much like last off-season it’s just a matter of what can be accomplished in the given time frame. That’s why I made the original statement about the silence, because we just signed a catcher, and every other potential position of need is one AA has publicly stated he is comfortable with given the floor of the players already on the roster.

    I believe the order of interest is 3B upgrade, veteran SP (close 2nd), and OF upgrade at a distant 3rd. I would have a hard time accepting if they did no more free agent acquisitions this off-season.

  11. Forgot to include that AA has also stated in clear terms that he wants to add a veteran starting pitcher. Of course, there’s no way to know if he’s shopping for an Annibal Sanchez kind of veteran figure or something more along the lines of Keuchel/Madbum.

    I’d rather give the money to Gerrit Cole, though. We have all the money. He has all the want. Just do it.

  12. @8 @10 @14 I think the Braves have universally signaled that they’re not done yet. You have to remember it takes two to make an agreement. AA can’t sign anyone who’s not yet ready to sign. That’s why I said that there could be quite a bit of silence until the big fish start biting. Then there’ll be a cavalcade of signings, of which the Braves will participate.

    What impresses me the most, as Alex says, about these nickels and dimes is that they all represent real value signings. Not like signing Jose Batista and thinking he’ll be our regular 3B. Or Bartolo Colon et al. They all fill holes competently and can be expected to be playoff contributors. I know we’re still waiting for the stars to fall from the heavens but it’s been a better offseason than most recent ones already.

  13. I’m almost certain I’ve said it on here, but Sam is banned. It happened a few to several months ago. There wasn’t a single event or anything, but for me, the final straw was when he berated someone for being a guest contributor on here simply because the guy had a bunch of followers on Twitter. I don’t regret it one bit, lest anyone think it was a reactionary move.

  14. Yeah, I think when the elite players are ready to sign, AA will get his man. It was this week last year that we landed Donaldson and McCann, neither of which were not top free agents. And then, of course, there was the great abyss for months. Bryce Harper, as an example, signed on February 28th. The JT Realmuto trade was February 7th. I don’t think the market moves that slowly this year, so I hope there’s a big move in December, maybe a big move in January, and the team is set by February.

  15. @21
    Braves were willing to go 6/200MM for Harper last year. I don’t think they will land him, but ownership said they wouldn’t shy away from adding that one addition to put them over the top when the time comes.

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