Braves add catcher Travis d’Arnaud

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud spent the majority of 2019 with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Credit: Tim Warner

Credit: Tim Warner

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud spent the majority of 2019 with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Braves have their new battery mate to pair with Tyler Flowers.

Travis d’Arnaud, a recently well-traveled 30-year-old catcher, joined the team on a two-year, $16 million deal Sunday afternoon. D’Arnaud is familiar with the National League East after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Mets.

“We’ve been pretty clear about needing someone to add to the roster and we had Travis near the top,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We like the fit in the clubhouse, we like the bat as well. … Travis is a guy we identified and tried to get a deal done with.”

In signing d'Arnaud, the Braves addressed one of their self-identified greatest needs. Catcher Brian McCann had retired, opening up a void on the field and in the clubhouse. The team saw d'Arnaud as an optimal successor. He'll share time with Flowers, who the Braves re-signed to a one-year, $4 million deal earlier this month.

Anthopoulos knew d’Arnaud from their days in the Toronto organization, when d’Arnaud was a top prospect acquired in the Roy Halladay deal and later traded away in the move that brought Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Canada. D’Arnaud also has past experience with Braves catching coach Sal Fasano, who coached him when he was Eastern League MVP in 2011.

While Anthopoulos noted injuries have derailed d’Arnaud’s upside, he’s still highly regarded across baseball. Anthopoulos praised d’Arnaud’s power to all fields, especially right center, and his ability to handle a staff.

“We did a lot of work on his prep, game planning, the receiving side is obviously important, too,” Anthopoulos said. “We think Travis has been high up there in the past, we’ll think we’ll continue to get better and get back to where he was.”

D’Arnaud bounced back in 2019 after undergoing right elbow surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament the season prior. He appeared in 103 games (92 of which came with Tampa Bay), hitting .251 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs for the Mets, Dodgers and Rays. D’Arnaud is a career .246 hitter with 63 home runs in 500 career games.

Last season was the third time d’Arnaud had exceeded 100 games played since he debuted in 2013. Anthopoulos noted d’Arnaud recovered his form with the Rays, when he hit .263 and knocked all of his 16 homers.

Tampa Bay tried to re-sign d'Arnaud, according to the Tampa Bay Times, but the Braves swooped in and continued their offseason spending. The team has already signed relievers Will Smith, Darren O'Day and Chris Martin in addition to d'Arnaud, bucking the trend of slow-developing winters that have plagued baseball in recent offseasons.

“We just worry about ourselves,” Anthopoulos said. “Last winter, (Josh) Donaldson and (Brian) McCann came together early. It worked out that way and then there was a gap. It’s hard to pinpoint when deals will come together. … We’re focused solely on ourselves and the needs we have to address.”

D’Arnaud’s brother, Chase, was a member of the Braves in 2016 and ’17. The Braves now have 40 players on the club’s 40-man roster.

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