The Atlanta Braves signed veteran catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year, $16 million contract Sunday.
The deal marks the latest step in a busy offseason for Atlanta, which already had inked closer Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal. The Braves likely will divide catching duties between d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers, who agreed to return to the club on a one-year deal earlier in the offseason.
The 30-year-old d’Arnaud hit .251 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 103 games last season. He appeared in 10 games with the New York Mets and one game with the Los Angeles Dodgers before finding his groove with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he accounted for all of his homers and all but two of his RBIs.
Atlanta reportedly liked another free agent catcher, Yasmani Grandal, but turned to d’Arnaud after the Chicago White Sox signed Grandal to a four-year deal.
“We’ve been pretty clear about needing someone to add to the roster, and we had Travis right up there at the top,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said in comments published by MLB.com.
The Braves also have a pair of high-quality catching prospects in Shea Langeliers and William Contreras, but both are expected to open the season in the minors.
“With prospects, when they’re ready, they’re going to find their way up here,” Anthopoulos said. “This was about making the 2020 Braves and 2021 Braves as good as they can be. We’d love to be in a position where our prospects are playing well and they deserve to be on the big league team and we have some tough decisions to make. But right now, with Flowers and Travis, we really like where we’re at at that position.”