The Atlanta Braves didn't waste a lot of time finding their replacement for backup catcher David Ross. According to Mark Bowman, the former Detroit Tiger, Gerald Laird, is close to signing with the Braves.
The Tigers held the door open for a Laird return but they weren't prepared to offer him a raise or a bump in playing time.
Atlanta wasn't expecting to be in search of a backup to Brian McCann this winter but David Ross' decision to sign with the Red Sox left them scrambling. Enter Laird, who will be thrust in to the starting lineup at the beginning of the season while McCann rehabs from offseason shoulder surgery.
Laird hit .282 in 63 games behind the plate for the Tigers, including 2 HR's and 11 RBI's. The most important factor in Laird's signing is that bats RH and will fit well in the rotation with the left-handed McCann. While Laird offers little offensively, the Braves were most interested in his ability behind the plate. He has a career .997 fielding percentage and catches base runners at a 42% clip. Laird is often praised for his strong arm, an extremely quick exchange of the ball from glove to throwing hand and excellent accuracy. He provides something that McCann doesn't – defense.
Braves fans will certainly miss all that David Ross brings to the table but Gerald Laird is a solid signing at a position the Braves sorely needed.
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