Earlier this evening, the Braves signed veteran catcher Manny Piña, a free agent formerly on the Milwaukee Brewers. Piña spent the 2021 season mostly backing up Omar Narváez, although Manny did appear in 75 regular-season games in 2021. The 34-year-old veteran will be a great addition to the Braves’ roster, both as a solid backup for Travis d’Arnaud and as a mentor to the younger catching prospects such as Shea Langeliers. Following d’Arnaud’s thumb ligament injury, which caused him to miss over two months during the 2021 season, the Braves shuffled around catchers like a miserable game of musical chairs, never really settling on an optimal replacement before d’Arnaud’s return mercifully put an end to the search. Adding Piña to the roster should completely eliminate the need for the backup-catcher-carousel, and allow d’Arnaud to get whatever rest days he needs.
Throughout his 75 regular-season appearances, Pina slashed .189/.293/.493. That’s not a great batting average, sitting (un)comfortably below the Mendoza line of .200, but the slash line gets better and better as you read it. A slugging percentage of .493 is quite respectable, and a .732 OPS is slightly above the league average; perfectly acceptable stuff from an experienced, defensively talented catcher.
Piña’s contract is $8 million for two years; with d’Arnaud’s $16-million-dollar contract set to expire in 2023 as well, the Braves have secured two solid catchers for the next two years for only $12 million per year. Multiple sources have reported that general manager Alex Anthopoulus has already been incredibly aggressive on the phones this month, so we should expect this to be the first of many transactions in the next few weeks. Considering Anthopoulos’s track record this season, I have a lot of trust in his ability to make some great personnel decisions over the next few months!