The Yankees don’t want to give Robinson Cano a new big contract. They were willing to give catcher Brian McCann a slightly less, but still large, contract instead. New York filled a big need in getting a caliber catcher they haven’t had since Jorge Posada. Whether or not McCann will become a star Yankee is yet to be seen, as many big name free agents have burned and crumbled in the Big Apple. McCann does have the experience of playing against the New York Mets with his time in Atlanta, but that was as an opposing player. He now has the limelight on his pinstripes.
The Atlanta Braves gave Brian McCann a tender offer earlier this off season of $14 million dollars – not exactly chump change. Being a Braves fan, I was hoping to see him take that offer and work out a long term deal later on to stay in Atlanta, where he is was very well-liked and thought to be the face of the franchise. He is from Georgia and starred for his hometown team since they drafted him.
The Braves didn’t have an extreme need to resign McCann however since they have the services of Oso Blanco, or Evan Gattis to take over the catching duties. He was out of place in the outfield last season and can now resume his natural position behind the dish. McCann’s presence in the lineup and catching will surely be missed though.
Instead of a 1-year large contract, Brian McCann opted for a long term bigger contract. At 5 years and $85 million, he becomes one of the highest paid players in the league and rightfully so. Ironically, it is with the team that said they were trying to reduce payroll and quit giving out enormous long term deals. The Yankees are hopeful that they will soon be rid of Alex Rodriguez’s salary and possibly Mark Texiera and Curtis Granderson. Their newest acquisition will again give the Yankees a large long term and longer tendered player who may or may not last through the end of that contact.
As a catcher, McCann has a more limited career than other position players or pitchers. Most catchers can only handle the duties for so long, and the Twin’s Joe Mauer is already making the move to first base to save his knees. Buster Posey has also played games at first to keep his long term health in check. Brian McCann has virtually no experience at first base, although the DH rule will allow him to skip catching some games while still providing his hitting abilities. I definitely see the team using this to their advantage to have him play as many games as possible.
As with other free agents who have signed with the Yankees in the past, there will be new found pressure and media hype that is not the same as a southern team like the Braves. There are too many players to name who have tried and failed miserably in the Bronx, but there have been those that succeeded as well. Brian McCann seems to have a personality that will not concede to the Yankee reporters if he struggles at all. After all, he is the player who is infamous for confronting Jose Fernandez and Carlos Gomez after they each homered off the Braves last season and questionably flaunted their achievements.
That kind of (poor?) sportsmanship may or may not be tolerated in New York, although all bets are off when the Yankees square off with the Boston Red Sox. Things always get wild between those two teams, although any Red Sox player will be able to blind McCann with the glare of their World Series rings, something that the former Brave has never won in his time in the Majors. Baseball players always have their teammate’s backs, but it would be a stretch to see Derek Jeter defending Brian McCann in a post-game press conference if anything happens in New York as it did in Atlanta.
Brian McCann heads to the Big Apple
The Yankees found a bargain of a player last off season with Vernon Wells playing the way he did. They are hoping that their new catcher can produce even better, and rightfully so with his larger salary. There will be some learning curves with getting to know new pitchers and playing in a new ballpark, but McCann is a poised veteran who probably has a shallow learning curve.
Reading the title of this article, you might think I am being pretty lenient towards McCann and thought I would bash him. Well here it is. I think he sold out for more money (although a wise personal investment). It’s not like the Yankees are winning championships like they were back in the 90’s and 2000’s. He left his home to go play for the most hated, or most loved, team in sports and left behind the place he would have been immortalized. I want to see more players stay with one team their entire career so badly, and Brian McCann had that chance. Then he became a little kid in a candy store and shoved as much candy in his pockets as he could.
I hope he does well, but not well enough to be an all-star or help the Yankees reach the World Series. I hope the Braves find a way to win a championship without him and throw it in his face. It’s not like Brian McCann would have been poor or homeless staying in Atlanta, and playing in a new ballpark in a few years as well. He did what most players have done since free agency was adopted in the 1970’s – he took the money and ran. And to think I almost bought a Braves jersey on clearance this year with his name on it. It’s as if they knew he wouldn’t be back. Most people probably did know, but I was one of those optimistic fans hoping he would stick to his roots and not trade in his car for a subway pass.