The New York Yankees and Brian McCann have agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract with an option for a sixth year.
By inking McCann, the Yankees have not only acquired one of the most coveted free agents of this offseason (and the best catcher) but they have upgraded what was the weakest part of their lineup in 2013.
After Russell Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Francisco Cervelli was implicated in Biogenesis, the Yankees were stuck with Chris Stewart and Austin Romine as their only options behind the plate. They batted .211 and .207, respectively, and combined for five home runs and 35 RBI.
In 102 games this year, McCann batted .256 with 20 long balls and 57 RBI. It was the sixth straight season he’s hit at least 20 home runs and the seventh time in the last eight seasons. With the short porch in right field, the left-handed swinging McCann could put up even better offensive numbers in Yankee Stadium.
Defensively, McCann could have an even greater impact. The nine year veteran is the ideal battery mate for a pitching staff that will likely be composed of young arms like Ivan Nova and a veteran ace looking to bounce back after the worst season of his career (C.C. Sabathia). Not only will McCann help put runs on the board with his bat, but by handling a shaky pitching staff he’ll be instrumental in preventing opposing teams from scoring.
A seven-time All-Star, McCann turns 30 in February so he should be in his prime years for almost the entire contract. Catchers do tend to break down faster than other positions, but Mark Teixeira’s contract is up after 2016 so McCann could potentially move to first base for the last two years of the deal. He could also play more games every season as the DH, which would delay the wear and tear of catching.
What McCann gets in return for his services (besides $85 million) is the opportunity to play for a perennial contender. Though the Atlanta Braves made the playoffs four times with McCann behind the dish they were never able to advance past the divisional round. This year, the Yankees failed to reach October for only the second time in the last nineteen years.
The Yankees still have many holes to address in the lineup, but with the addition of McCann they just took one gigantic step closer to a twenty eighth championship.