Tyler Flowers will return behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves next season, but R.A. Dickey will not take the mound for the franchise.
The Braves exercised Flowers’ 2018 club option on Monday — a meager $4 million price tag for the veteran catcher and breakout performer this past season — but declined the $8 million option for Dickey, the veteran knuckleballer who is contemplating retirement.
In his two seasons in a Braves uniform, the 31-year-old Flowers is hitting 15 percent above league average while maintaining his position as one of the best pitch-framing catchers in the game. Alongside Kurt Suzuki, who signed a one-year contract extension during the season, Flowers led the most productive catching platoon in baseball last season.
The Suzuki-Flowers combination led the majors in catching wins above replacement (5.1) while hitting .279/.360/.480 with 31 home runs. The $7.5 million total price tag for the productive duo was an easy call — even for a front office in flux and still operating without a full-time general manager.
The Braves also announced that Flowers underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist on Oct. 9. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to baseball activities by spring training.
Dickey joined Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia as the veteran trio the Braves acquired last offseason to bridge the gap to their farm system, but the 43-year-old was the only one to finish the season in Atlanta, posting a 4.26 ERA in 190 innings. After making the 300th start and 400th appearance of his long, successful career in the final outing of the season, Dickey spoke openly of possibly retiring after consulting with his family.
By declining his option, the Braves will pay Dickey a $500,000 buyout.
The departure of the 2012 National League Cy Young winner could open up a 2018 rotation spot for young arms like Luiz Gohara, Max Fried or Lucas Sims, among others.