Jobu introduces us to rumored Yankees free agent target Brian McCann.
So far in the Tough Decisions series, we’ve covered the internal free agents the Yankees need to decide on this off-season. In the next phase of this series, we’ll take a look at some possible targets from the free agent market, including some that the Yankees have allegedly already been linked to. We’ll start with Brian McCann. Enjoy.
I mentioned McCann in my post about the Yankees catching situation last week, but I can’t write a post about possible free agent targets without him. He’s the biggest fish in the catching sea this off-season, and the Yankees have a huge need in that department, so it makes sense for them to look his way. If you’re looking at talent, and talent alone, McCann is by far the best available free agent catcher. At his best, the soon-to-be 30 year old from Athens, GA can hit for a reasonable average and has the power to hit 35+ homers in the left-handed friendly Yankees Stadium. In his nine year career with his hometown Braves, Mccann slashes .277/.350/.473 with 176 home runs and 661 RBI. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a catcher. His bat would certainly be a welcome addition to this lineup, especially if the Yankees aren’t able to bring back Robinson Cano. Hell, if they manage to bring both guys back, the Yankees lineup would have a pretty impressive 3,4,5.
I think the best part about McCann, however, is something that has nothing to do with his talent level at all. I mentioned this in the catchers post as well, but if there’s one thing you should know about Brian McCann, it’s that he will not stand for your bullshit. You want to showboat on a home run? Not on his god damn watch, you won’t. Two separate times this season (that I’m aware of), he got in the face of another player for showboating and taunting his teammates. The first was the phenom, Jose Fernandez. In this instance, Fernandez had been jawing back and forth with Braves third baseman Chris Johnson the entire game. When Fernandez hit his first major league homer against Mike Minor later in the game, the rookie tossed his bat aside and took his time watching the ball sail over the fence. Johnson yelled at him on the way by, and Fernandez spit at the ground near Johnson on his way around third (gasp!). Anyway, when the kid got to home plate, McCann confronted him and let him know, in no uncertain terms, that this type of shit is not tolerated at the big league level. He might as well have said “We wear caps and sleeves in this league, son.”
Exactly two weeks later, the Braves were playing the Brewers, and someone else decided to act out of turn. This time, it was Brewers’ Outfielder Carlos Gomez. With Paul Maholm pitching, Gomez socked a dinger over the left field fence. Apparently, Maholm had hit Gomez with a pitch earlier in the year, so Gomez not only threw the bat away and took his time getting down the line, he openly leered at Maholm and yelled obscenities at him pretty much all the way around the bases. You think Brian McCann let that one slide? It’s one thing When a rookie showboats. They don’t know any better yet. When a grown ass man like Gomez pulls that kind of stunt, you better damn well believe Brian McCann is gonna tell him a thing or two. McCann didn’t even let Gomez cross home plate. Gomez was jogging around third with his head down, when he got about 3/4 of the way down the line and looked up. There was McCann, in the baseline… and he was pissed. Pleasentries were exchanged, benches cleared (tough guy Chris Johnson hid behind the umpire) and the Umps kicked some people out of the game and didn’t even bother letting Gomez touch home plate. Seriously, Carlos Gomez. Did you think Brian McCann was gonna let that shit go down? You’ll be lucky if McCann’s in the AL next year!
Anyway, the only issue with McCann’s talent is his arm. He’s not what I would call super adept at throwing runners out, only holding a career mark of 24%. I can’t tell whether or not those stolen bases are all his fault (sometimes the pitcher is susceptible to the steal), but odds are that, even if you took out the SBs that were the fault of the pitching staff, the number would still not be very good. At least McCann provides a big bodied target and can block a lot of balls in the dirt too. That, and the increased production in the lineup, will probably even out the increased stolen bases.
Finally, like almost everyone else on the catching market, McCann does come with a caveat. Unfortunately, in his case, it’s a big one. Hard as he may try, McCann can’t seem to stay healthy for a full season and, while his injuries are not always colossal in nature, they can add up over the span of a career. Last season, McCann missed the early part of the season with a major shoulder injury, although he closed out the season injury free, which is a good sign.
If the Yankees want McCann’s bat in the order, they’re going to have to put up with a drop off defensively, and risk some money and years on his health. Many are predicting McCann might end up with a six year deal worth $100MM. I don’t think the Yankees, or anyone else for that matter, should be making that kind of commitment. The money doesn’t bother me as much as the years. While McCann would only be 36 by the end of the contract, 36 for a catcher is more like 40 for normal players. Such a long commitment could come back to haunt the Yankees.
Again, if the price and years are right, I would love to have McCann as the Opening Day Catcher come April. Let’s hope for the best.
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