Braves interested in reuniting with Flowers
Ex-Atlanta farmhand has been White Sox primary backstop over past 3 years
ATLANTA -- Tyler Flowers was a rising prospect in the Braves' system until he was traded to the White Sox seven years ago. But there is now a chance the Atlanta native could fulfill his dream to continue his Major League career with his hometown team.
Since being non-tendered by the White Sox on Wednesday, Flowers has drawn some interest from the Braves, who have not yet decided who will share the catcher's position with A.J. Pierzynski during the 2016 season.
Word of the Braves' interest in Flowers was revealed exactly seven years after the young catcher was sent to the White Sox as part of the package that brought Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to Atlanta.
Flowers worked alongside Pierzynski when the young catcher experienced short stints at the Major League level in 2009 and '10. He then served as Pierzynski's primary backup with the White Sox during both of the next two seasons.
While serving as the White Sox primary catcher over the past three years, Flowers has batted .228 with 34 homers and a .656 OPS. The 29-year-old hit .239 with nine homers and a .652 OPS over 361 plate appearances this past season.
Flowers has been lauded for his framing skills, but some of his defensive numbers slipped this past year. He threw out 26.4 percent of runners attempting to steal against him and was charged with nine passed balls in 1,052 innings during the 2014 season. But he had a 14.5 caught stealing percentage and was charged with 15 passed balls in nearly 200 fewer innings this year.
Ironically, the Braves are looking for another catching option because of the concerns they have developed for Christian Bethancourt, who had been considered their catcher of the future entering 2015. Bethancourt caught nine of the 20 opponents who attempted to steal against him, but he was charged with eight passed balls and four errors in just 357 innings.
While Bethancourt's strong arm provides some value, his 44.1 innings-to-passed balls ratio has been a problem. Flowers has recorded an 81.8 innings-to-passed ball ratio over the past three seasons.
It remains to be seen whether the Braves will be able to trade Bethancourt, who stood as one of the game's top catching prospects over the past few years. But their interest in Flowers provides further proof they are looking for other options to share the catching position with Pierzynski.