It was announced on Saturday that the New York Yankees and Brian McCann have reached an agreement on a 5 year $85M contract with a mutual option for a 6th year. McCann has played all nine of his big league seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He has hit at least 20 home runs in seven of those seasons. After getting no production out of the catcher position in 2013, the Yankees will definitely get something positive out of the backstop in 2014.
Both of our 1st and Ten analysts, Chris Marcotrigiano and Seth Guttman, are die-hard Yankees fans and have differing opinions on the McCann signing. They both share their feelings on it down below.
The Positives of signing Brian McCann:
by Chris Marcotrigiano
The Yankees successfully accomplished part one of their offseason rebuilding plan by signing former Braves catcher Brian McCann to a five year deal worth $85 million, with a sixth year vesting option. While my colleague will tell you why he doesn't like the deal, I'm going to give you the positives of the signing for this coming season and beyond.
McCann, despite a recent decline in production due to injuries, is still one of the top offensive catchers in the league. He is almost a lock every season for twenty homeruns, which he hit last season in only 402 at bats. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium will only add to McCann's power potential, as he is seen as a dead pull hitter.
Let's also keep in mind that the catcher position was a black hole for the Yankees lineup last season. Chris Stewart, who was the starter for the majority of the year, hit a meek .211 and hit only four homeruns. McCann provides a monumental upgrade in the Yankees' most pressing area of need as he also has the potential to hit .270 or higher.
The alternatives are also not all that attractive. Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be the next best free agent at the position. This is a player who has had success in recent years but also has a history of mental lapses, which included the bizarre phenomenon of not being able to throw the ball back to the pitcher. At this point in Brian Cashman's tenure as general manager, he doesn't want to bring anyone in who he has a reason to suspect couldn't handle New York. I'd imagine Saltalamacchia would be one of those players.
Despite the length of the deal, McCann still could yield the position in a few years time to prospect Gary Sanchez and move to first base in place of Mark Teixeira. Alternatively, this gives the Yankees some flexibility if they decide to trade Sanchez for help at another position.
In the end, the Yankees needed to blow away McCann if they wanted to scoop him off the market this early. They did so by paying him an average of $17 million per year, which they can afford with some money coming off the books from last season. Personally, I like the plan that the team has put forward to rebuild the roster. If this is what it takes to accomplish the first part of that plan, so be it. However, they have to finish the job if they want this to be a success. The worst thing for the Steinbrenners to do would be to cheap out halfway through. Next on the list for the Yanks is outfielder Carlos Beltran, a player that fans have been waiting to see in pinstripes for a long time.
If McCann is able to stay healthy, this deal will most certainly pay dividends for the Yanks.
The Negatives of Signing Brian McCann
by Seth Guttman
Before I get into why I didn't like the McCann signing, let me state that I understand why the Yankees did it. The catching situation last year was an absolute joke, so adding a player who has hit 20 or more home runs in six straight years is an obvious improvement. Also, while I don't agree with the method, the Yankees seem to not care about giving up their 1st round draft pick. The money isn't the main issue to me, it all comes down to the five and possibly six years that he'll be under contract.
I have been on the Russell Martin bandwagon for three years now and after seeing the Yankees balk at the two years $17M asking price last off-season, I thought it was kind of pathetic that they went out and spent $85M on a catcher this winter. This article is about McCann, so I'll try to keep the mentions of Martin to a minimum, but every single clutch hit by the guy in 2013 brought unbearable pain to myself. It only made me angrier that Brian Cashman didn't bring him back after Martin had a brilliant postseason.
Sorry for the quick tangent...onto McCann! While the Yankees don't seem to care about handing out large contracts, you have to scratch your head on this one. With top catching prospects Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy both showing a lot of promise, you'd figure they would just acquire a stop gap backstop such as an A.J. Pierzynski or Ryan Hanigan. Now you block the path of your two most talented prospects and they become expendable. While I agree with Chris, that they could be dealt, I'm worried about McCann's long term prospects at catcher. McCann played in the least amount of games since his rookie season in 2013, which is never a good sign for an aging catcher.
The common sentiment by the national media is that the Yankees can just move McCann to DH at the end of his contract. The problem with that idea is Alex Rodriguez, if he does not retire or get banned from baseball forever, will most likely need a lot of DH time himself. If Derek Jeter is still playing, I'm sure he will also need to take days off from playing the field. I'm not so sure how much I'd like McCann at 1st base once Teixeira's contract expires because while he is a good hitter, he doesn't hit to the standard of a prototypical first basemen. Plus, who knows how he'll be defensively out there.
The biggest issue I had with this signing was that the Yankees were willing to give up the 18th overall pick in the draft. The last time the Yankees gave up their 1st round pick to sign a free agent, the Angels selected someone you may of heard of named Mike Trout. With a farm system that is almost as dry as a desert, the Yankees really could use a potential blue chip prospect. Now that they have forfeited that pick and may also lose other draft picks when they sign other players with the qualifying offer attached, it will be a lot harder to find a gem in the mid to late rounds of the draft. I've heard rumors that the Yankees plan to go way beyond the limit they can spend on international amateur free agents, but those players won't see the big leagues for another five years at the earliest. The Yankees already lack any young, cost controlled assets at the major league level and now they won't be getting any sure things in the first round of the draft. This is going to be a make or break season for all scouts in the Yankees organization.
While the McCann signing has been gradually growing on me, I still disagree with the loss of the 1st round draft pick and the amount of years offered. While this signing could look good in the short term, I expect this to look bad in the long term. I won't be surprised if Cashman is regretting this signing by 2016.
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