NASHVILLE — The Braves signed catcher Matt Pagnozzi to a minor league deal and plan to have him serve as Gerald Laird’s backup until starter Brian McCann returns from shoulder surgery.
McCann is expected to miss at least the first two weeks of the season and possibly a month. Laird was signed last month after backup David Ross left the Braves for Boston and a two-year, $6.2 million free-agent contract too good to pass up.
Pagnozzi, 30, is the nephew of former St. Louis Cardinals Gold Glove catcher Tom Pagnozzi, and has spent a decade in minors with a few cups of coffee in the majors with St. Louis, Colorado and Pittsburgh.
He has a .310 average with one homer in 83 plate appearances in 33 major league games, and Pagnozzi is a .220 career hitter with a .300 OBP, 26 homers and 225 RBIs in more than 2100 at-bats in 703 minor league games.
“He’s always been a catch-and-throw guy,” said Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno, who was with the Cardinals when they drafted Matt Pagnozzi. “I think the bat’s improved a little bit, but his strength is still defense.”
The Braves also re-signed catcher Jose Yepez to a minor league contract. Yepez, 31, has a .270 average and .356 OBP in 12 minor league seasons, and hit .264 with 20 extra-base hits (three home runs) in 79 games for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012.
“We feel real comfortable with our depth at catcher,” Manno said.