Atlanta Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki speaks to the media before Game 2 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers in October. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Braves free agent Kurt Suzuki signs with Washington

The Braves will indeed have a new backstop to pair with Tyler Flowers in 2019.

Kurt Suzuki, who split catching duties with Flowers the past two seasons, signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the rival Nationals, according to multiple reports.

Across 186 games with the Braves, Suzuki hit .276/.341/.485 with 31 homers, 27 doubles and 100 RBIs. He experienced somewhat an offensive renaissance in Atlanta while being lauded for his toughness (he was hit by 26 pitches in that time).

The 35-year-old addresses one of Washington’s weakest positions. He’s also a positive clubhouse presence, which can only help after their disappointing 2018. Suzuki played 79 games for the Nationals in 2013.

While Suzuki’s offense was solid, he wasn’t regarded as a plus defensively. He only threw out 21.3 percent of attempted base stealers. The Braves re-signed Flowers during the season, valuing his excellent pitch framing and leadership.

Retaining Suzuki simply wasn’t among the Braves’ priorities. His departure to Washington removed a fallback option.

The Braves will add a Suzuki replacement. It remains to be seen if it’ll be an individual who continues Flowers’ split-role, or a full-time player who’d relegate him more to the bench.

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