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Braves sign Travis d’Arnaud to two-year, $16 million deal

d’Arnaud will replace Brian McCann as Tyler Flowers’ new timeshare partner in 2020.

Divisional Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Braves have signed catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year, $16 million contract, per a club announcement Sunday afternoon:

After being supplanted by Wilson Ramos in New York last offseason and then let go at the beginning of May, d’Arnaud got the change of scenery he apparently needed in Tampa (following a bizarre five-day detour with the Dodgers). The veteran catcher quickly passed up offseason acquisition Mike Zunino on the Rays’ depth chart, becoming their starting catcher and enjoying an offensive resurgence. Over 365 plate appearances in a Rays uniform, d’Arnaud hit .263/.323/.459 with 16 homers, good for a 107 OPS+ that was his best since 2015, when he hit .268/.340/.485 (126 OPS+) with 12 homers over 268 PAs for the NL pennant-winning Mets.

d’Arnaud figures to be Tyler Flowers’ latest timeshare partner behind the plate in Atlanta. Since joining the Braves in 2016, Flowers has never played in more than 100 games in a season — and only once played in more than 90 — splitting time first with A.J. Pierzynski in ‘16, then with Kurt Suzuki for the next two seasons, and most recently with Brian McCann in 2019. With McCann having retired following the season, the Braves were obviously in the market for another backstop to keep Flowers’ workload relatively low. Though they have former No. 6 overall pick Alex Jackson — who saw his first big-league action in 2019 and has two years of Triple-A experience under his belt — as well as veteran John Ryan Murphy and prospect William Contreras on the 40-man roster, they evidently felt that Flowers needed a more experienced partner and spent the money to bring in d’Arnaud.

The d’Arnaud signing is just the latest move in what has been an extremely busy offseason for the Braves so far. Beyond re-signing Flowers, outfielder Nick Markakis, and relievers Darren O’Day and Chris Martin, the Braves also signed All-Star reliever Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal earlier this month.