ATLANTA -- A month after pursuing Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Braves have given Tyler Flowers a contract extension that will assume an even more lucrative appearance if he is indeed Atlanta's backup catcher next season.The Braves announced Flowers received a one-year, $4 million extension
ATLANTA -- A month after pursuing Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Braves have given Tyler Flowers a contract extension that will assume an even more lucrative appearance if he is indeed Atlanta's backup catcher next season.
The Braves announced Flowers received a one-year, $4 million extension that includes a $6 million club option for the 2020 season. If the option is not exercised, the 32-year-old veteran will receive a $2 million buyout.
"I'm glad, because if you lose a guy like that, you don't know where you're going to replace him," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "There just aren't a whole lot of catchers that are available."
Flowers celebrated his new contract with a two-run home run in the eighth inning in Atlanta's 9-5 win over the Rays on Tuesday night.
"All and all, it wasn't too bad," Flowers said of his day. "Good news earlier today and a timely hit right there. It worked out well."
Though the Braves are expected to continue their pursuit of Realmuto and possibly make a run at Yasmani Grandal, who will be this offseason's top available free-agent catcher, they were willing to make this $6 million guarantee to address at least half of their catching needs by extending the relationship with Flowers, whose defensive intangibles have partially offset this year's offensive struggles.
"We really value the framing, and Flowers is as good as it gets," Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He's been a big part of our success on the mound."
Flowers has gotten called strikes on 52.7 percent of his borderline pitches caught this season, which ranks sixth of 49 catchers with 1,000 or more borderline pitches caught, according to Statcast™. In 2017, he led the Majors at 54.6 percent.
Flowers accounted for the possibility he might serve as a backup in 2018, but he jumped at the opportunity to continue playing close to his childhood home and the family residence he shares with his wife and four children. This contract will allow him to realize the career earnings goal he set when he made his Major League debut in '09 with the White Sox.
"I think performance and stuff will take care of [the playing time]," Flowers said. "With that said, I don't think anybody is going to come in here and play for the Atlanta Braves in this environment, in these temperatures, and catch 130 [games]. I just don't think it's physically possible. So, worst case, you're catching 60 or 70 [games]. I don't know if I'd be happy [with that], but if that is what it is, I'll do the best I can at that role."
After hitting .281 with 12 homers and a career-best .823 OPS last season, Flowers strained his left oblique during his first plate appearance in 2018 and was sidelined until April 27. He says he started to find comfort at the plate last week, but admitted he has been frustrated while hitting .225 with a .692 OPS this season entering Tuesday night.
"It's been tough," Flowers said. "It's been a grind for me, personally, just getting in there and finding different ways to compete. Fortunately, we have so many other guys who seem to hit the cover off the ball every day, it hasn't seemed like a big gap. But it would be nice to get rolling for the end of the season and the playoffs."
After being acquired from the Orioles on July 31, Kevin Gausman became the latest pitcher to quickly find comfort working with the cerebral Flowers, who has had a knack for drawing strikes with his pitch-framing skills.
"I've always valued that more than hitting .300 with 30 [home runs]," Flowers said. "That would be great to do one day, but I wouldn't want to do it and sacrifice anything behind the plate."
Having been with the Braves since the start of the 2016 season, Flowers experienced the painful portion of the team's recent rebuild. He's now looking forward to the chance to continue being part of what appears to be a very promising stretch for his hometown team.
"I think anybody who has been a part of it for the past few years definitely wants to be here for the next five," Flowers said. "I think there are some good things happening now, and I think there are going to be a lot of good things happening the next couple years, as well. So hopefully, this will turn into a couple [years] at least and this will turn into something special."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.