ATLANTA -- As R.A. Dickey contemplates retirement, Tyler Flowers is recovering from left wrist surgery and looking forward to spending a third consecutive season with his hometown Braves.Along with officially announcing they have exercised Flowers' $4 million option for the 2018 season, the Braves revealed Monday they opted to decline
ATLANTA -- As R.A. Dickey contemplates retirement, Tyler Flowers is recovering from left wrist surgery and looking forward to spending a third consecutive season with his hometown Braves.
Along with officially announcing they have exercised Flowers' $4 million option for the 2018 season, the Braves revealed Monday they opted to decline Dickey's $8 million option. This latter decision opens the door to either pursue another veteran starting pitcher or possibly keep a rotation spot vacant for the one of the many starting-pitching prospects who have either already made their Major League debut or could do so during the early portion of next season.
Dickey has hinted he might choose to end his playing career and spend more time with his wife and children in Nashville, Tenn. Even if the 42-year-old knuckleballer does retire, he will receive the $500,000 buyout that was connected to his option for the 2018 season. He allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of his final 18 starts and led the Braves with 190 innings pitched this year.
While there might have been some doubt about Dickey's future in Atlanta, the Braves have long known they would exercise this option for Flowers, who produced career highs in batting average (.281) and OPS (.823) while belting 12 home runs over 370 plate appearances this past season.
The Braves have reason to feel good about the opportunity to once again have Flowers share the catching duties with his good friend Kurt Suzuki, who signed a one-year, $3.75 million deal as he neared the end of this year's career-best 19-homer season.
Along with helping the Braves produce MLB's second-best OPS from the catching position, Flowers (20) and Suzuki (13) stood as the game's only players to be hit by more than 10 pitches while totaling fewer than 400 plate appearances this season.
Flowers missed a portion of the 2016 season when his left hand was fractured by a pitch just before the All-Star break. The 31-year-old suburban Atlanta native unknowingly fractured the hand again this year, when he was hit with a pitch at Nationals Park on Sept. 13. He played over the course of the regular season's final week and did not learn about this most recent fracture until undergoing arthroscopic left wrist surgery on Oct. 9.
This recent surgical procedure, performed by Dr. Gary Lourie, removed damaged tissue that had formed after Flowers was hit on his wrist by a pitch during a June 28 game in San Diego. He developed a baseball-sized welt on the wrist by the time he reached first base at the conclusion of that plate appearance and exited the game before the next half-inning.
Flowers did not miss any time with the wrist ailment, but the lingering effects proved bothersome as he came to realize he essentially could make only so many movements per day before experiencing pain. In order to conserve energy for the latter innings, he started minimizing the amount of swings he took before a game.
Though he likely would not begin his offseason preparations until December, Flowers is confident his wrist and hand will be healthy enough for him to begin swinging a bat again if necessary within the next few weeks. He is looking forward to coming to Spring Training to prepare for what he hopes to be a season filled with far less nagging discomfort.
"That was the hardest thing about this past season, feeling so good physically and mentally, but having to deal with some of these silly physical issues," Flowers said. "When you deal with that, it affects your daily routine."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.