Atlanta Braves: Gerald Laird Signing Not Sexy, but Does the Trick
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The need for a backup catcher came when David Ross signed a free-agent deal with the Boston Red Sox last week. With McCann expected to miss the first month of the season after shoulder surgery, Ross was going to be looked at to be the starter.
Once he signed with Boston, the Braves had to scramble to find a replacement.
Laird now enters the picture as the backup, and a good one at that.
A 10-year veteran, Laird has had stints with the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. Last year with the Tigers, Laird had a batting line of .282/.337/.374 in 174 at-bats with the Tigers.
Is signing Gerald Laird a good move for the Braves?
While he's long been a backup in the majors, Laird will play a big role in the first month of the season with McCann out. However, the impact of his signing will be far more reaching.
With McCann expected to hit free agency next year, there's a possibility he may not return to Atlanta, opting for a bigger contract elsewhere.
If McCann does go elsewhere, Laird will be huge in the development of top-catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, widely considered the Braves' catcher of the future.
Bethancourt will be able to learn the ropes of being a major-league catcher. Just as Ross provided veteran leadership in the Braves' clubhouse over the last few years, Laird will be able to do the same.
Laird would be the guy most directly responsible with the development of Bethancourt. It would be his chance to leave a mark on the organization for many years to come.
But say McCann does re-sign with the Braves and Bethancourt is traded away (which likely will happen if McCann re-signs). Laird will still be a good backup for the Braves, giving McCann the rest he needs at least one day a week.
For the Braves, signing a veteran leader like Laird is nothing but a positive.
It may not be the sexiest move in the world, as many fans are waiting to see who the team will sign to play center field. But it was a necessary move for the Braves and one that could shape the next decade, long after Laird leaves Atlanta.
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