ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves have dealt away young catcher Christian Bethancourt after a disappointing season in which he failed to take advantage of his chance to take over the starting job.
Once hyped as the catcher of the future, the 24-year-old Bethancourt was dealt to the San Diego Padres on Thursday for right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly and minor league catcher Ricardo Rodriguez.
Bethancourt began the 2015 season as the No. 1 catcher but got off to a terrible start and wound being demoted to the minors. He returned late in the season, batting .200 with two homers and 12 RBIs.
When the Braves re-signed 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski and agreed to a deal this week with catcher Tyler Flowers, it was clear that Bethancourt’s days in Atlanta were numbered.
Kelly adds to the surplus of young pitchers the Braves have stockpiled while undergoing a major overhaul. A former first-round pick who had Tommy John surgery before the 2013 season, he spent most of this past year with San Diego’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, combining to go 2-10 with a 5.16 ERA.
The 26-year-old Kelly is 2-5 with a 6.69 ERA in nine big league appearances.
"Casey will compete for a spot on our major league pitching staff this spring, while Ricardo brings another young catcher to our farm system who has a lot of promise and upside," said Braves general manager John Coppolella, who has made a flurry of moves this off-season, carrying on the rebuilding job that sent the Braves tumbling to a 95-loss season.
Rodriguez is only 17. He batted .266 with two homers and 15 RBIs splitting time between a pair of rookie league teams in his first professional season.