With the shoulder injury to Brian McCann requiring him to have surgery and David Ross' recent departure to the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves find themselves in quite the predicament at the catcher position going into the 2013 season.
"He (McCann) faces about six months of rehab and could miss the first month of the 2013 season, though the Braves are optimistic that he might be back a little sooner," reports David O'Brien of AJC.com.
This leaves the Braves with two very important choices.
Trade or sign a free-agent catcher to become the starter, or they can allow their 21-year-old premier position prospect Christian Bethancourt to take over the everyday job until McCann returns.
The Braves have little to no depth at Triple-A at the catcher position, so Bethancourt should be ahead of Shawn McGil and Jose Yepez, who both are not on their 40-man roster.
Regardless, the Braves will have to sign another catcher to fill the void left by David Ross, but they must determine what role that catcher will play. Will he be the starter on opening day or will they allow Bethancourt a chance to showcase his skills?
It is time for the Braves to make a very important decision about their future.
With McCann's contract up and the end of the 2013 season, I believe it to be a perfect opportunity to let Bethancourt get his feet wet in the major leagues and see if he can contribute.
With a month or more of playing time with the big club, the Braves should be able to get a clearer picture on whether or not they want to sign McCann to an extension or let him walk and hand the reigns over to Bethancourt.
This decision will not comes easy for the Braves personnel, but the pros will far out weigh the cons if they allow Bethancourt a chance to play the first month of the season rather than letting a veteran with no real future with the club to get the bulk of the playing time.
Also, if McCann suffers any sort of setback Bethancourt could find himself being with the Braves for two months or more.
Bethancourt has the chance to be a quality catcher in the major leagues and the Braves should take the risk and make him this year's opening day starter.