2022 Braves Player Review: Travis D’Arnaud

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Since Alex Anthopoulos stepped in as GM back in November of 2017, it’s been apparent that he has a “type” he looks for in the offseason when it comes to the catching position:

It’s pretty cut and dry…Anthopoulos wants successful veterans behind the plate. Unfortunately for him, but fortunate for a rookie that deserved a chance, Manny Piña wasn’t able to become of the backup for D’Arnaud and William Contreras was able to enter the chat.

Still, when looking at the past 3 years, it’s easy to see that Anthopoulous thinks D’Arnaud is D’man as he’s entrusted his pitchers to throw 1642.1 innings to him over the course of 3 years (and would’ve been much more if it weren’t for a 2021 injury).

A Retroactive Look Back at D’Arnaud’s Signing

In November of 2019, the Braves inked D’Arnaud to a 2/$16MM (reminder that 2020 was prorated to 60 games). At the time, it seemed like an overpay. Travis had only been worth 1.4 fWAR in 2018 and was out nearly all of 2019 with an injury. Paying a soon to be 31 year old $8MM/year for 2 years seemed like living in the land of bad ideas.

D’Arnaud immediately shoved a bar of soap in my mouth and absolutely ripped the cover off during Covid-Ball, carrying a .919 OPS and leading the team back to the playoffs for a 3rd straight year. 2021 was not as strong and injury kept him out for months as his bat slumped hard. That didn’t stop Anthopoulos from inking D’Arnaud to a new deal in August of 2021, the same deal he’d previously signed but with an added club option, and something that Anthopoulos has become known for since becoming the Braves GM. All eyes were on D’Arnaud in 2022 and he seemed perfectly fine with that.

Travis D’Arnaud, 2022

Offensively, D’Arnaud will never top his 60-game tear back in 2022, but he was a steady presence in the lineup with a .791 OPS and 18 HRs in 396 ABs, good for a 119+ OPS, good enough for 6th in MLB.

Defensively, D’Arnaud had a banner year leading NL catchers in framing runs at 8.9. Also, after seriously struggling in the caught stealing department in his first 2 years with the Braves (throwing out 8 thieves in 58 chances), 2022 saw huge improvements, as he caught 15 of 59. It’s a far cry from great, but it’s in the vicinity of good and that will do.

2023 and Beyond

It’s just a guess, an educated one, but there’s a lot of similarities between D’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers. The Braves brought Flowers back in 2016 and kept him around through 2020. Flowers seemingly had a lot of the intangibles that D’Arnaud possesses, but more or less, was there to do his job and communicate effectively with the pitchers. It’s my opinion that D’Arnaud provides more to the clubhouse than Flowers and if I were to pick a clubhouse leader, even during Freddie Freeman‘s tenure, D’Arnaud seems loose and universally liked, and my eyes tell me he’s the person that people go to when they need some advice.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

20 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Travis D’Arnaud”

  1. Next Wednesday, the Rule 5 draft will take place and Victor Vodnik seems like the most obvious choice in the entire draft and that makes me sad. I wanted a V for Vendetta intro for Victor.

  2. They didn’t protect Vodnik? I guess they have a talent crush, but still, I join you in your sadness.

  3. Yeah, that’s weird. That’s the exact kind of guy that a team would stash on a 25-man roster.

  4. Given VV’s propensity for injuries I’m a bit more worried about losing Lisandro Santos, not that he is likely to stick. 15k/9 is a tough loss

  5. Clemente was a bonus baby that the Dodgers didn’t want to keep on their MLB roster for the required 2 years. So they outrighted him soon after the signing as any team claiming him on waivers would need to pony up the waiver fee and the full bonus amount. Since nobody would pay all that and be forced to keep him on their active roster for 2 full seasons, he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Richmond AAA club.
    But the story continues! Clemente was still under bonus baby rules! One of these was that the player could only be kept on the 40 man roster if they were also on the 25 man active roster or injured. So no protection from Rule V. The Dodgers tried to use him sparingly and only on nights where no scouts were in attendance so that he wouldn’t attract too much attention. They went so far as to only let him take batting practice with the pitchers. Well, the Pirates scout saw him anyhow, and the rest is history.

  6. I knew it was a mistake giving Morton 20 mil this year .. although it was good to ger Harris and Strider locked in .. maybe next year for that weould have been better .. we could have saved about 30 mil to be in the Tre Turner sweepstakes .. looks like Turner will go to the dreaded rival Phillies .. they will take over .. what was AA thinking giving away 20 mil when he knew we needed that to be in contention for a SS …. then he could have went and found a 4th starter alot cheaper..

  7. Mike Clevinger got $12MM from the White Sox with a pretty lousy peripheral set, so $20MM for Morton doesn’t seem that outrageous. Even if the Braves had $30MM to spend, it doesn’t mean they’d spend it on one guy.

  8. Charlie Morton already had a $20M contract with the Braves before the extension. All they did was kick the option one year down the road. Not picking up the 2023 option would leave the team with the extra money to spend but at the cost of a Charlie Morton sized hole in the rotation… that would likely cost more than $20M to fill.
    Team construction is hard! Some want to wave their magic wands and tell us this is our possible lineup without regard to anything outside of money. To be fair, they have a point as some teams have acted that way before and will do so again (cough,AJ Preller, cough). Those teams tend to lose a lot, however, and I would rather not have my front office act that way.
    A solid, professional, front office — like the Braves under AA — will have their one year dream scenario but will temper their decisions by the need to also pay heed to the 2-year, 3-year and 5-year organizational plan and depthcharts. And believe me, the good teams put as much emphasis on the 5-year plan as they do the lineup for next season.
    Viewed in this light, picking up Morton’s option is almost a no-brainer. The only downside is catastrophic injury, else you get, at a minimum, slightly above average run prevention in 180 or so innings and every contending team in the league would sign for that in a heartbeat (offer not valid in Tampa). The beauty from the organization’s pov is that Charlie only costs money, so no future run on effects, and isn’t taking reps from any hotshot minor leaguer. Yes, Muller and perhaps Soroka will need room on the mlb team but long/middle relief is the proper place for that to start anyway (see Strider, Spencer).

  9. As for the Phightin’s “taking over”… They went on one of the greatest hot streak s ever to get to… 87 wins. Their front office does not have viable 2 or 5 year plans either because Dembroski never does. They have no depth and are heading towards the same stars and scrubs model Dembroski always uses. The problem with signing one of the star shortstops is that every one of them is likely going to be worse in 2023 than they were in 2022 and worse again in 2024 — you are buying into a losing market. Choose the right one and he may decline slower than the others! I will admit I think Turner has the skillset that will age best.

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