On Sunday evening, Mark Bowman posted a story on MLB.com stating that the Atlanta Braves “have started toying with the idea of moving Evan Gattis to left field” and presumably bringing Christian Bethancourt up to become the team’s everyday catcher:
Though a decision does not necessarily seem imminent, the Braves have discussed the possibility of promoting Bethancourt to serve as Atlanta’s starting catcher. If this decision were to be made, Gattis would move to left field and Justin Upton would transition to right field. To complete this equation, Jason Heyward would replace B.J. Upton in center field.
Bowman goes on to talk about the elder Upton brother’s continued struggles at the plate and recently, his struggles in center field as well. Upton’s defense and plus speed (in addition to the large amount of money tied to him) has kept him in the starting lineup throughout this year and last despite his well below-average offensive numbers. It seems that the defensive struggles are the last straw.
Upton’s play, combined with the Bethancourt’s recent offensive success in triple-a Gwinnett have apparently got the front office thinking a bit creatively:
Meanwhile, as Bethancourt has batted .312 with a .764 OPS in his past 37 games, he has at least given the Braves an alternative. There has never been much reason to be concerned about Bethancourt’s defensive skills, which have been deemed Major League ready for the past three years. But now that the 22-year-old catcher is showing some signs of optimism at the plate, the Braves are getting the sense he’s ready for a promotion.
“We’re hearing [Bethancourt] right now,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re paying attention.”
Upon hearing this news, I was honestly shocked. It might be because I just expected to have to deal with B.J.’s mediocrity (I’m being really nice) throughout the entire year, or the fact that Bethancourt is still a ways off offensively and in some areas defensively.
This is definitely a risky move in my opinion, but at the same time, it’s nice to see that the club is looking at all possible options to improve the team this year and contend.
What are your thoughts on these rumors? And be sure to stay tuned, we’ll have more in-depth coverage of the news (whether it happens or not, we want to break it all down) soon. In the meantime, hit us up on Twitter (@ATLBeatBlog) to talk about the pros and cons of bringing Bethancourt up and moving Gattis to left field.