Braves sign catcher Flores to minor league deal

The Braves added more catching depth Friday by signing former Nationals catcher Jesus Flores to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Flores, 30, last played in the major leagues in 2012 and was with the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014, batting .248 with a .304 OBP and five homers in 150 plate appearances over 40 games.

In five seasons with the Nationals, he hit .241 with a .289 OBP and 23 homers in 1,014 PAs over 311 games. Flores gives the Braves a third veteran catcher in spring training behind rookie Christian Bethancourt, who’s penciled in as the regular starter for 2015. Free agent A.J. Pierzynski was signed to be the primary backup to Bethancourt.

Veterans John Buck and now Flores signed minor league deals with invitations to big-league spring training, where they could compete for a possible third-catcher spot on the major league roster if the Braves decide to go with that roster configuration.

The Braves wanted to make sure they had plenty of catching depth at the major league and minor league levels, particularly after acquiring multiple high-level pitching prospects in offseason trades.

Another veteran catcher, Eli Whiteside, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Brave earlier this offseason, but later decided to retire and take a coaching job with the Giants.

Flores had 27 extra-base hits (eight homers) in a career-high 324 plate appearances for Washington in 2008, and hit a career-best .301 with a .371 OBP and .877 OPS in 106 plate appearances for the Nationals in 2009.

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