The Braves have signed catcher Tyler Flowers to a one-year contract extension with a club option for 2020, as Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday:
Tyler Flowers has agreed to an extension for one year and a club option with #braves.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 28, 2018
Flowers will receive a $4M base salary in 2019, and will have a $6 million option for 2020 with $2M buyout. so $6M guaranteed. #braves— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 28, 2018
As Heyman writes, Flowers gets $6 million guaranteed with the potential to make up to $10 million if the option is picked up. The Braves’ decision to lock him up for next season at this point is just a bit surprising, as he’s in the midst of his worst offensive season since joining the club in 2016. But while he’s been a part-time starter for all three of his years in Atlanta, his salary is affordable enough that he could be moved into a legitimate backup role if the Braves go out and acquire a legitimate starter like Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, or J.T. Realmuto this offseason.
The 32-year-old Flowers is hitting .225/.357/.335 with five homers in 230 plate appearances this season. Over 925 plate appearances in his three years with the Braves, he’s posted an impressive .264/.365/.409 slash line, but considering his dip in production this year, there’s got to be some concern that he’ll revert to the offensive form he displayed over seven seasons with the White Sox (.223/.289/.376 over 1,395 PAs). While his throwing arm is average at best, he’s widely believed to be one of the better defensive backstops in the game — he’s posted six defensive runs saved this year — and he’s often been lauded for his framing ability.
With Flowers in the fold for at least the next year, it will now be interesting to see if the Braves look to keep rolling forward with the catching tandem that they’ve employed since the beginning of last year, or if they do indeed go out and try to get a more established starter. 34-year-old Kurt Suzuki, Flowers’ partner in the Braves’ catching timeshare, has posted an exceptional .273/.339/.480 slash line with 28 homers over two seasons in Atlanta, and as he’s set to hit free agency this winter, he’d also be a logical extension candidate. However, the mediocre .246/.297/.377 slash line he’s posted since the All-Star break may make the Braves skeptical of the value he can provide going forward, especially as he gets set to enter his age-35 season.