The Braves announced Monday that they’ve signed veteran catcher Manny Pina to a two-year contract worth $8 million. (Atlanta is one of the few organizations that publicly discloses financial terms.) Pina will earn $3.5 million in 2022 and $4.5 million in 2023. The contract also has a $4 million club option for the 2024 season, which does not come with a buyout. Pina is a client of Rep 1 Baseball.
It’s at least a moderate surprise to see Atlanta ink another catcher. The Braves already extended veteran Travis d’Arnaud on a two-year, $16 million contract late in the season, giving them a veteran option to provide a bridge to up-and-coming prospects William Contreras and Shea Langeliers. With Pina now on board, both Contreras and Langeliers have veteran roadblocks in their way on the big-league roster.
Langeliers, who has just five games of Triple-A ball under his belt, likely wouldn’t have been an option until late in the 2022 season at the very earliest anyhow, but Contreras has already gotten his feet wet in the majors and seemed to be a candidate to break camp with the Braves behind d’Arnaud next year. The addition of Pina, on a two-year deal no less, makes that alignment unlikely anytime in the near future — unless the Braves opt to carry three catchers on the roster (which seems possible with the likely addition of a designated hitter in the National League).
Pina’s $3.5 million salary next season brings the Braves to $80.5 million in guaranteed contracts to seven players, plus a projected slate of $49.9 million in arbitration salaries, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Of course, that number doesn’t include franchise icon Freddie Freeman, who has been extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer he’s sure to reject. Freeman is a free agent for the first time in his illustrious career, but the Braves figure to make a strong push to retain him even after he fields interest from other clubs around the league.
This past season’s $131.4 million Opening Day payroll was a franchise record, but president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos has already indicated that ownership will increase that figure for the 2022 season