As expected, big Tyler Flowers is coming home. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound catcher, who was non-tendered by the White Sox a few weeks ago, will sign a two-year contract with the Braves.
Flowers, who will turn 30 years old on January 24, will likely split time with A.J. Pierzynski as Atlanta's starting catcher in 2016. The deal likely means the end of the line for Christian Bethancourt, the highly-touted prospect who fell out of favor with the Braves in his rookie season.
Flowers was originally drafted by the Braves in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft. He was a draft-and-follow player, signed by the Braves out of Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida. The Braves included Flowers in the Javier Vazquez trade with Chicago seven years ago. He went to the White Sox with Jon Gilmore, Santos Rodriguez and Brent Lillibridge for Vazquez and Boone Logan.
Flowers is another hometown Georgia kid, as he was born and went to high school in Roswell, Georgia - just 25 miles north of downtown Atlanta.
The White Sox started playing Flowers somewhat regularly in 2013, when he played in 84 games and hit 10 home runs with 24 RBI. Then in 2014, Flowers played in 127 games and hit 15 home runs and drove in 50 runs. Last season, Flowers played in 112 games and hit nine home runs with 39 RBI. His career batting average is .223 with a career OBP of .289.
The Braves will need Flowers' power. Atlanta was dead last in home runs last season in the Major Leagues with only 100. With Pierzynski, a left-handed hitter, turning 39 at the end of this month, the Braves knew they needed a dependable second catcher on the roster. Ryan Lavarnway should be the third option. He'll be in big league camp but will likely be the starting catcher in Gwinnett.
Bethancourt hit just .200 in 48 games for the Braves. The Braves will likely try and trade Bethancourt over the next several weeks.
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