With Johnny Estrada now in Arizona, the Braves were in need of a veteran backup catcher for 22-year old Brian McCann. And GM John Schuerholz has continued his busy week with the Braves' first free agent signing of the winter to fill that need.
BravesCenter.com has learned the Braves have signed free agent Todd Pratt to a contract to be their backup catcher.
Pratt spent the last five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Last year he hit .251 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI in 175 at bats.
The 38-year-old right-handed hitter started his career with the Phillies back in 1992. He has also played with the Cubs and Mets, before returning to Philadelphia in 2001.
Pratt is the epitome of a backup catcher, never getting more than 175 at bats in a season. He has averaged 144 at bats over the past seven seasons. In his career, Pratt has 376 hits, 45 home runs, and 205 runs batted in, along with a .255 batting average and a .350 on base percentage.
Pratt should bring a strong veteran presence to the Braves' clubhouse, which lost Julio Franco today when the 47-year old signed with the New York Mets. The Braves believe Pratt will also work well with McCann, as the young catcher approaches his first full season as the Braves' starter behind the plate.
The addition of Pratt means the Braves have added five new players this week, after acquiring Edgar Renteria, Wes Obermueller, Lance Cormier, and Oscar Villarreal in trades at the winter meetings in Dallas.
Schuerholz will continue to look for help in the bullpen, along with another possible infield reserve to fill out his roster.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at email@example.com.
First on BravesCenter: Braves sign Todd Pratt
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