Posted November 23, 2013 08:22 pm

McCann gets lengthy deal from Yankees

Brian McCann leaving Atlanta was inevitable, so learning of his destination and amount of money isn't a surprise.


McCann is reportedly receiving five years and $85 million from the Yankees, including a vesting option that could boost the total value to $100 million over six years.


The Yankees are betting on McCann's value to hold as he enters his age-30 season. He hit .256/.336/.461 with a .347 wOBA and 122 wRC+ in 402 plate appearances this past season, reaching 20 home runs for the sixth consecutive year. He's still in his prime and he proved that with a bounceback year.


A big part of his 2013 season was staying healthier, too, as he returned from shoulder surgery in May and stayed on the field for most of the season. This was a pleasant change from the previous two years.


To put it probably too simply, McCann will need to repeat his 2013 over the duration of the five years to be worth the contract. It's a tall order for a 30-year-old catcher who has caught nearly 9,000 innings in the majors and has an injury history. His bat will slow, his footwork will slow, and he will probably move from behind the plate before the contract is finished, losing further potential value from defense.


One thing McCann is gaining from the move is Yankee Stadium, which is more favorable to hitters than Turner Field. StatCorner's three-year park data has New York at 116 for left-handed batters compared to 101 in Atlanta. McCann will likely hit a few more home runs to right field, but the difference won't be so big that he jumps by 15 home runs or 2-3 wins to his WAR. I'm sure it will help, though.


We can analyze the Yankees giving McCann a lengthy deal worth a lot of money until we're blue in the face, but it was going to happen, and the Yankees probably aren't concerned about his value matching the total cost. They see this as an upgrade now and one that could pay off at the DH position down the road, and they would be correct.


It's the nature of free agency. McCann was one of the best catchers in baseball over the past few seasons, and he's getting paid for it as a free agent. The Braves were in no position to contend for this type of contract, nor should they have considered giving him that many years. The Braves are a mid-market team that has to look ahead instead of paying for past performance.


Looking ahead means Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird holding down catching duties in 2014. Gattis hit .243/.291/.480 with a .329 wOBA, 110 wRC+ and 21 home runs as a rookie this past season. He's below average defensively, but his value is tied to the bat, which the Braves are banking on at least holding, if not improving, as the primary starter. He'll be 27 for much of the 2014 season.


The potential long-term answer at catcher remains Christian Bethancourt, who would immediately become one of the best defensive catchers in the majors with an elite arm and plus glove. His bat lags behind his defense, but his realistic future role is that of a major league regular.


The Braves will have to get used to not having one of the best hitting catchers in baseball suiting up for them every season. The best way to combat this is with excellent defense, which isn't far from being a reality in Atlanta.