Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is leaning towards carrying three catchers when Brian McCann is set to return to the Braves’ 25-man roster in a little over a week, according to David O’Brien. Gonzalez says Gattis “hasn’t given us any reason [to send him down]”, and also shockingly suggested he may use Gattis in the outfield while Jason Heyward recovers from his emergency appendectomy.
If McCann comes off the DL before Heyward, Gonzalez hinted that he could play Gattis some in left field and move Justin Upton from left field to right.
“But who goes down?” to open a spot on the 25-man roster for McCann, Gonzalez asked rhetorically. “But that’s nine, 10 days down the road.”
Though Gattis is only hitting .235 with a .293 on-base percentage, 11 of his 16 hits have gone for extra bases — five doubles and six home runs. He has logged 37 games in the outfield in the Minors, mostly with Double-A Mississippi, though his defense is certainly a big concern for the Braves as they contemplate finding a spot for him in the lineup.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.