When the Braves entered the offseason, they realized they will need to sign a backup catcher. Just about everyone figured David Ross would be back. The 35-year-old veteran backstop has spent the last four years in Atlanta and throughly enjoyed his time, and he can still contribute with the bat in a pinch.
When word came that Ross had signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, it came as a big surprise to Braves Country.
It's not that replacing Ross will be impossible to do; it's that his departure only gives general manager Frank Wren yet another thing to do this winter. The team is already searching for a center fielder and likely a left fielder, and there are still a couple of questions with the starting rotation and bullpen.
As Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweeted over the weekend, the Braves have already begun speaking with various free agent catchers. It seems likely the club would sign one of these catchers for a year or two.
Brian McCann will be coming off shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a few weeks at the start of the season. Given the amount of games McCann typically has off throughout the year due to ailments and normal rest, Wren will have to lock up a reliable backup both defensively and with the bat.
The Braves could also elect to trade for a backup similar to the way they did for Paul Janish last June, although that seems less likely.
The loss of Ross is a substantial one for Atlanta, but not one they cannot overcome. Look for Wren to find a new backup catcher sooner rather than later as he continues his search for two impact outfielders.