Saturday’s MLB free agency moves included one of the biggest catcher transactions in a while as Brian McCann agreed to become a member of the New York Yankees. With McCann’s five-year, $85 million contract as a reference point, it is clear to see that the Los Angeles Dodgers are getting a great deal out of their relationship with catcher A.J. Ellis.
At an average of $17 million per year, McCann’s new contract is arguably an over-payment. McCann is a decent defensive catcher, as he had a .995 fielding percentage, but a low caught-stealing percentage prevented him from being a truly intimidating force behind the plate. Out of the 62 runners who attempted to steal on McCann in 2013, the 29-year-old from Georgia only caught 24%. Comparatively, would-be base stealers were forced to respect Ellis’ arm and, while only attempting to steal 53 times, were caught 44% of the time. With a fielding percentage of .997, Ellis’ statistics and overall play make him a superior defender to McCann.
On the offensive side of the game, McCann holds a slight edge both over their careers and just in 2013. Ellis is a career .256 hitter and has averaged around 12 home runs and 52 RBI the past two seasons while McCann has hit .277 on his career and averaged 20 home runs and 62 RBI in the recent past. One aspect of the game that Ellis does compare well with McCann is the ability to get on base. Ellis’ eye for balls and strikes is impeccable and the six-year veteran takes more pitches than the vast majority of ball players. The career on-base percentage of the two differs by only one one-thousandth of a point.
One has a bit of an edge on offense while the other has an advantage behind the plate; McCann and Ellis are fairly comparable players. Despite being only a few years older, Ellis was only paid $2 million for his services in 2013. The Dodgers are getting an absolute steal of a deal out of their catcher who still has quality years left in the tank.