The Braves have two options at catcher moving forward, neither of which are very good.
We all know what Evan Gattis can do offensively and defensively. The book is still out on Christian Bethancourt, who has continually struggled to hit in the minors despite receiving rave reviews for his abilities behind the plate. The two backstops couldn't be any more different as far as their skill sets go.
So what do the Braves do with them?
For a team that was 29th in runs scored last year, it would be tough to let go of Gattis. He's one of two legitimate right-handed power threats in the lineup and has shown he can carry an offense by himself. Remember when Gattis hit .353 with a 1.027 OPS during the first three weeks of June? That was a good time. I remember sitting in Phoenix for the Braves-Diamondbacks series when Gattis was on that streak, and he was hitting the shit out of everything.
While Gattis' numbers have been impressive since debuting in 2013, there are some concerns. He will be a 29-year-old catcher next season, and given his size, it's tough to imagine him aging gracefully. He played in just 108 games last year, missing quite a bit of time with multiple injuries. Gattis has struggled with injuries his entire career and that's only going to continue as he gets older and takes more abuse behind the plate.
Some people, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, have suggested playing Gattis in left field. That is simply not an option. Gattis rated at -10 runs saved when he played left field in 2013 over just 342 innings – roughly one-fourth of a full season. That would make him the worst defensive player in baseball. While that's a relatively small sample size to judge from, anyone using an eye test would tell you Gattis is not an outfielder.
Bethancourt has seemingly been in the Braves' system forever. He projects as a plus defender behind the plate but is a career .270/.300/.379 hitter in the minors. He has never hit for power nor shown a great eye at the plate. There's a chance the 23-year-old catcher could improve as he ages, but he's likely going to be a sub-par hitter, at best, over his big league career. Mark Bowman recently wrote Bethancourt projects to be the Braves' full-time catcher in 2015.
If the Braves had a lineup loaded with good hitters, trading Gattis to restock the farm system and allowing Bethancourt to find his way at the bottom of the order would be a no-brainer. The Braves don't have that luxury and taking one of the few good hitters out of a bad lineup would make things even worse offensively. There are serious concerns over Gattis lasting much longer as a National League player, though, and it would seem the smartest course of action would be to deal him to a team in need of a designated hitter.