Tag: Brian McCann

Brian McCann to Astros: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The New York Yankees continued to get younger Thursday by trading veteran catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros in exchange for two pitching prospects.

The Yankees’ PR staff announced the deal on Twitter, noting the Astros were sending back right-handed pitchers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman for McCann.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the Yankees will be sending the Astros $5.5 million in each of the next two years to help cover the $17 million McCann is owed in 2017 and 2018. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed the Astros would be paying McCann $11.5 million each of the next two seasons.

Rosenthal noted there is some expectation that McCann will catch 100-110 games with Evan Gattis covering the remaining games in 2017. 

“We got better today,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. 

McCann is among the best offensive backstops of his generation, but he struggled in 2016 to the tune of a .242 batting average with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. That marked the lowest RBI total of his career in a season in which he played at least 130 games.

Although B-Mac hit just .232 in 2015, he set a career high with 26 home runs and tied a personal best with 94 RBI, which led to him winning his sixth career Silver Slugger Awardhis first since making the leap to the American League from the Atlanta Braves.

The 32-year-old Georgia native is a seven-time All-Star selection, and he is a dangerous threat from the left side of the plate when swinging the bat to the best of his ability.

That wasn’t the case in 2016, and with the Yankees finding a long-term answer at catcher in Gary Sanchez, he became expendable.

McCann has two seasons left on his contract and a vested option for $15 million in 2019, according to Spotrac. Trading him now gives the Yanks more flexibility moving forward, and in doing so they dealt from a position of strength.

With Sanchez looking like a perennial All-Star and Austin Romine serving as a quality backup, New York has enough catching depth to get by without McCann for the remainder of 2016 and in the years to come.

The Yankees also continue to add depth to a much-improved farm system after last summer’s deals that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians and Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers.

Abreu is the prize for the Yankees in the deal. Per MLB.com, he is now ranked as New York’s No. 10 prospect with a fastball that has peaked at 99 mph. The 21-year-old has to harness his control after walking 58 in 101.2 innings last season, but he allowed just 74 hits and had 115 strikeouts between Low-A and High-A.

McCann’s struggles last season—particularly from a power perspective—were somewhat surprising considering the fact Yankee Stadium is tailor-made for lefties with pop.

He took advantage of that in both 2014 and 2015, but 2016 didn’t yield the same results.

The Astros are hopeful he can regain the power stroke that has made him such a valuable commodity over the course of his 12-year MLB career, but gambling on a catcher over the age of 30 comes with some risk.

Catcher is the most physically demanding position in baseball, and there is no guarantee McCann will ever be the same offensive player he once was.

Because of that, the Yankees may have parted ways with him at the perfect time, especially since they have other catchers capable of producing in a big way.

New York hasn’t been a seller often over the past two decades, but after getting a great haul for several assets at last season’s trade deadline, this is another move that could allow it to return to contention in the near future.

The Astros are fortunate to have a deep lineup with Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman. They don’t need McCann to return to his superstar form to justify this deal. Staying healthy and producing even average numbers at catcher would be a huge boost for them in 2017.


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Brian McCann Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Yankees C

New York Yankees catcher and designated hitter Brian McCann has continued to be the subject of trade rumors this offseason.

Continue for updates.

Yankees Deny That Trade for McCann is “Imminent”

Thursday, Nov. 10

Yankees general manager and senior vice president Brian Cashman indicated Thursday that “A McCann trade does not appear imminent,” according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. On Friday, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan noted the Yankees are willing to pay half of McCann’s $34 million salary, but they want multiple young players in return.  

McCann, 32, has been the subject of trade rumors this week, with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reporting Wednesday the Houston Astros were “pursuing” a trade for the veteran designated hitter and catcher.

Also on Wednesday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Yankees were in talks regarding McCann with the Astros, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. So a trade for McCann might not be “imminent,” but it certainly feels like there is a healthy market developing for his services.

McCann Trade Won’t Be Easy for Yankees 

Trading him won’t necessarily be easy, however.

McCann has a full no-trade clause in his contract, is due $34 million over the next two years and reportedly “no longer wants to catch 125 to 130 games,” according to Rosenthal (it’s worth noting Sherman reported McCann still wanted to be a regular catcher). Gary Sanchez is locked into the starting role in New York, so McCann would remain the backup and the primary designated hitter if he remained in New York.

And indeed, those are three pretty tricky factors to navigate for the Yankees, and if McCann indeed would prefer a designated hitter role, it could make any National League team unfavorable. 

Well, any team outside of Atlanta.

“He calls that home and loves it in the offseason,” McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott, said of the city, per Sherman. “He would look hypothetically at them very seriously if Cash is able to do it. If it is a team a little closer to home that has a chance to contend that fits X, Y and Z, Mac will look at it and determine if it is a fit.”

While McCann had a solid offensive season, hitting .242 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI, the Yankees certainly could upgrade at designated hitter. But McCann also seems happy in New York and would be content remaining with the club.

“He has always approached this as I am a New York Yankee until they ask his permission otherwise,” Abbott noted. “I don’t think this is a slam dunk that it happens, I really don’t. He made a choice to be in New York because that is where he wants to be and he got a full no-trade clause because of that.”


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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Amid 2016 World Series

While the baseball world has focused its attention on the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians in the World Series, the offseason is approaching fast, which means trade talk is already beginning to heat up.

The rest of Major League Baseball’s 28 teams yearn to be in the position the Cubs and Indians are currently, and trading is a big reason why Chicago and Cleveland have developed into the two best teams in the sport.

With the winter frenzy of player movement on the horizon, here is a look at some of the biggest names rumored to be available via trade this offseason.


Wade Davis

Kansas City Royals righty Wade Davis has developed into one of the league’s best closers, but with KC needing to make improvements elsewhere to return to the playoffs, he could potentially be on the move.

According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Royals have received a great deal of interest in Davis, and they have made him available if the right offer comes their way.

Heyman added Kansas City wants to cut payroll, and dealing Davis would be a good way to do so since his 2017 club option is worth $10 million, according to Spotrac.

Davis racked up 27 saves in 30 chances last season to go along with a 1.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.

While his numbers were fantastic, they actually represented a significant drop-off from the previous two years.

Davis only closed for a portion of 2014 and 2015, but in those seasons combined he went 17-3 with 17 saves, a 0.97 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

He also posted four saves and didn’t allow a single run in eight appearances during last year’s playoffs, as he was a driving force behind the Royals winning the World Series.

With the Indians making a deep run due largely to the arms of relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, Davis is the type of player who could take a team to the next level and push them into World Series contention.

Because of that, the Royals would be wise to put a high price tag on Davis, as a team in desperate need of bullpen help may very well be willing to meet it.


Brian McCann

Following one of the worst seasons of his impressive MLB career, New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann is a player the Bronx Bombers would likely prefer to move on from.

The seven-time All-Star spent his first nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, and a reunion is possible, as Heyman reported the two sides had discussions during the season, which could resume once the offseason hits.

Per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the Braves are very much in the market for a backstop, but a high asking price could prevent them from bringing McCann back into the fold. He reported the Yanks want either 25-year-old pitcher Mike Foltynewicz or 25-year-old outfielder Ender Inciarte in exchange for McCann.

That seems like a lot for Atlanta to give up on the surface, especially since McCann is set to make $17 million in each of the next two seasons, according to Spotrac.

Although McCann posted his best batting average during his three years with the Yankees last season at .242, his 20 home runs and 58 RBI were a steep decline from the 26 homers and 94 RBI he put up in 2015.

The biggest reason for New York to make a move is the emergence of Gary Sanchez, who hit .299 with 20 home runs and 42 RBI in just 53 games for the Yankees last season.

It will likely be difficult for McCann to get consistent playing time with the Yankees, and while he would be a good asset for a Braves team with plenty of young pitchers, it wouldn’t be wise to give up too much for a player New York may desperately want to trade.

Foltynewicz and Inciarte both have star potential and could blossom in the Bronx for a Yanks team that is suddenly stacked with young talent.

Eating a large portion of McCann’s salary could be such a deal more appealing for the Braves, but New York may need to lower its asking price to make it a reality.


Zack Cozart

After nearly acquiring him during the 2016 season, the Seattle Mariners are reportedly still interested in making a deal for Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.

According to Bob Dutton of the News Tribune, a trade between the two sides was close, and talks are expected to resume during the offseason.

Cozart enjoyed a solid campaign that saw him hit .252 with a career-high 16 home runs, as well as 50 RBI and 67 runs scored.

The 31-year-old veteran bounced back nicely from a couple down years, as inconsistency and injuries prevented him from contributing at the level he displayed in 2012 and 2013.

On top of Cozart‘s strong bat, he is also a plus-fielder, as evidenced by his career Defensive Runs Saved Above Average mark of 54, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Cozart would be a good fit for the M’s, as they didn’t receive much offensive production from the shortstop position in 2016.

Regular starter Ketel Marte hit .259 with just one home run and 33 RBI most often as a bottom-of-the-order guy, while Cozart is capable of contributing higher in the lineup.

The Mariners stayed in the playoff race until the latter stages of the 2016 season, and while Cozart may not put them over the top on his own, he would fill a huge position of weakness and at least help Seattle come one stop closer to ending its postseason drought.


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Yankees and Rays Play Rare Game with 3 Multi-Homer Performances

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays combined for an unusual feat in Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium, playing the first MLB contest all season that included multi-homer efforts from three different players, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).

Completing the feat were Yankees catcher Brian McCann, Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and Rays outfielder Steven Souza, with each player contributing two apiece.

Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin also went deep for a walk-off win at the bottom of the ninth inning, but despite the total of seven home runs, Thursday’s game ended with a reasonable 5-4 score in favor of the Bronx Bombers.

Each of the seven homers was a solo job, with the game’s other two runs—both scored by New York—coming on an RBI single and an error at the bottom of the first inning.

Prior to Thursday, it had been more than two years since any MLB game featured three multi-homer performances, dating back to May 23, 2014, when Giancarlo Stanton, Mark Reynolds and Garrett Jones did the honors in a 9-5 victory for the Milwaukee Brewers over the Miami Marlins, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Thursday’s victory was the fifth in a row for a surging Yankees team that finds itself right in the thick of the American League playoff hunt, despite selling off a number of veteran players before the trade deadline.

New York is now just four games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East, and only two games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the final wild-card spot.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, owns the AL’s second-worst record, sitting at 59-80 after Thursday’s tough loss.

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Near-Fatal Swing Haunts Brian McCann but Made Accidental Victim an Inspiration

PEARL, Miss. — Hang tight, because this is a happy story. Really. You wouldn’t think so, not when someone loses an eye. Not when the pool of blood on the ground looks like something out of CSI: New York. Not when an emergency medical helicopter swoops in and rushes the man off to a nearby hospital, a life hanging in the balance.

Five years later, sitting in his office, that man looks across his desk at a visitor. Watch this, he says. My prosthetic eye moves right along with my good eye.

You look, and doggone if it doesn’t. Talk about the subtle miracles of modern medicine. Looking across that desk, Luis Salazar’s right eyeball moves to his right. The left eye trails along with it. He looks the other way, and the prosthetic left eye, now leading the dance, goes left with his good right eye following along.

It is a beautiful sight.

Tonight, he will manage the Double-A Mississippi Braves in another midsummer game. He will coach third base. He will help young Braves get better. He will suck in the baseball oxygen that has been his lifeblood for most of his 60 years, and then he will exhale a contented, healthy man.

And, oh, yes: He will spend part of the evening standing on the top step of the dugout, leaning against the railing while he works. Just like on that spring day in 2011, in another dugout, when a foul ball came screaming and crashed into his face.

“Man, you know what?” asks New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann, in another ballpark in another city. “A ball went into the stands the other night, and any time that happens, it takes me right back to that moment. Super scary.

“When balls are traveling into the stands, into the dugouts, man, it’s scary.”

You might call McCann an expert witness. He was the man at the plate that March day in Orlando, Florida, the lefty who swung early on a two-strike changeup and blasted that foul ball into the dugout. Nobody blamed him for the accident—least of all, Salazar. Goodness, no. It was just baseball. Things happen.

Tell that to McCann. If only it were that easy to accept when your bat is Point A and a man’s eye is Point B and the line between is a baseball rocketing so fast there is no time to react.

Yes, five years later, McCann still flashes back with horror to that moment every single time a hard-hit baseball lasers its way into the stands or a dugout. He still finds himself apologizing to Salazar whenever the baseball schedule brings them back together, usually during spring training in Florida.

Their dance is always the same.

Don’t worry about it, Salazar says.

Yeah, I know, McCann answers, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

I feel good, Salazar assures him. I’m back to work.

“When things get tough, we get tougher,” Salazar says on this impossibly humid Mississippi late afternoon. “I never give up. I try my best to reach the point where I can do anything I want.”

This story ends well, but it doesn’t start that way. It begins with a baseball lifer in his first spring with the Atlanta Braves organization, standing on the top dugout step, leaning against the railing. He is jawing with several players early in the game. Outfielder Nate McLouth is on his right, the side closest to right field in Atlanta’s first base dugout. Which is why the coach is glancing away from the plate at the exact split-second when the baseball comes calling.

“I thought he was dead,” Atlanta’s Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox says. “I was in a booth upstairs, and I saw him go down and he wasn’t moving. There was blood everywhere.

“He went backwards down the steps. That’s a five-foot drop, let alone the ball crushing him.”

Atlanta pitcher Julio Teheran was in the dugout, a few feet away.

“He was facedown on the dugout floor,” Teheran says. “It was really scary. The players, coaches, we wanted to help, but we couldn’t. His breathing was getting slow. He was losing blood.”

Jonathan Schuerholz, son of Braves president John Schuerholz, was also in the dugout. He was beginning his first season as manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Braves.

“It was crazy how quick it was,” says Schuerholz, who today is the organization’s assistant director of player development. “You fall four-and-a-half, five feet, regardless of whether or not you’re conscious, it’s going to bang you up pretty good.”

The way he fell back, Albert Pujols, who was playing first base for St. Louis that afternoon and was not more than several feet from the Atlanta dugout, was more worried about his neck.

Inside the clubhouse at that instant was Dr. Joe Chandler, the Braves’ longtime orthopedic surgeon. The sudden, urgent screaming and hollering caused him to sprint from that clubhouse straight into the dugout.

And this is where we’ll step away from the blood and gore to begin to fulfill the pledge that, yes, indeed, this is a happy story. A very happy story.

“You know, I’ll tell you, when I listened to your voicemail, it was a reminder to me what is wonderful about the 30 years I spent in baseball with the Atlanta Braves,” Chandler, now retired, says from the other end of the cellphone not long after my Mississippi stop.

“It is not about any individual game or winning a World Series. It is about the individual players, coaches and their families. When you say, ‘Luis Salazar,’ I think of strength. I think of the incredible strength his family showed during that whole ordeal. His wife, his son, his daughter, they didn’t leave his side during that whole thing.”

Graciela, Salazar’s wife of 36 years, was as graceful as her name. Son Carlos, now 34, and daughter Viviana, 32, were rocks.

“It was just amazing to me,” Chandler says. “People say, ‘He gave you a lot of credit for being with him.’ I didn’t do anything. I was amazed, sitting with his family…They go together and worked very well through this tragic, horrible thing. Never once was it ‘Woe is me, why me, what am I going to do now?’ It was, ‘What’s the next step? Let’s move on.'”

Look, they say. Watch this. It is as if the man is about to perform a magic trick: Salazar gives the baseball a good whack with his fungo bat, rifling a ground ball to top Atlanta prospect Dansby Swanson at shortstop, or maybe skying a pop fly to catcher Willians Astudillo, as part of infield work.

Repeatedly, his coaches and other managers throughout the Southern League watch this and cannot believe what they are seeing.

“They say it’s a miracle,” Salazar says, proudly.

How can he consistently put the bat on the ball? How can he regularly slap ground balls to each position that are so true to his targets?

Where does the depth perception come from?

As Salazar repeats these small miracles each night, let’s pause. Because these little, everyday tasks should not be taken for granted.

Listen to the eye surgeon who was waiting on the other end of that helicopter lift to the hospital on that day five years ago.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, his was an 8 to a 9,” Dr. Kourosh Nazari, Salazar’s eye specialist in Orlando says. “What happened was, the ball basically shattered his socket with multiple fractures of the orbital bone and also smashed the eye.

“The eye was kind of split open. I had to put it back together, repair it. The eye was back to its shape, but he had no vision because of the damage. The structures—the retina, the nerve—were not working.”

It was a lost cause from the beginning. But in an accident this catastrophic, knowing that the psychological damage can be devastating, Nazari’s first move, almost always, is to put the eye back together. Patients need at least some hope, however flickering it may be. And in the worst cases, they need time to assimilate that the curtain has been permanently closed on one of their two windows to the world.

It was a week later, with Salazar still unable to see from the eye and suffering from chronic pain, when Nazari performed a second surgery to remove the eyeball.

Then a year later, after he had given the seven fractures in the orbital bone sufficient time to heal, Nazari performed a third surgery to fix the parts of the socket that didn’t properly come back together after the trauma.

Because he lost consciousness immediately, Salazar does not remember the accident. Maybe that’s nature’s way of helping a person steel himself to, as Salazar says, get tougher when life demands it.

He remembers waking up in the hospital. And he especially remembers the kindness of so many.

“Bobby Cox, he’s one of the classiest guys,” Salazar says. “He came by the hospital every day. The coaching staff—Fredi Gonzalez (in his first year as Atlanta manager that spring), Terry Pendleton, Eddie Perez, (the late) Bobby Dews…every day.”

Phone calls lit up the switchboard. Tony La Russa. Pujols. Dusty Baker. Joe Torre. Davey Lopes.

The baseball family quickly mobilized with the Salazar family, pulling together tightly, like the webbing of a glove. When the New York Mets showed up to play the Braves that spring in Orlando, manager Terry Collins wanted to bring his entire team by the hospital to show them the courage of his friend. As you might expect, the hospital folks said, eh, maybe that’s not the best idea to crowd that many people in. The man is still in recovery.

“And Chipper Jones,” Salazar says of the Atlanta legend. “Every time he sees me now, he gives me a hug. And he tells me, ‘I got that picture in my mind. I thought you were dead.'”

There were others, too, who lifted his spirits. So many others.

“Fans in Atlanta wrote letters,” he says. “A lot of kids in middle school. I got at least 600 letters wishing me well, saying, ‘I know you’re going to get back on your feet and do well.’

“I really appreciate it.”

As he works today, others tell him they have tried to put themselves in his cleats. It’s easy, right? And human nature. To close one eye after meeting a man with one eye, to see what it might be like for him. It is a challenge the rest of us can replicate, if only for a minute or two. Close one eye and…

“I tried to hit a ground ball with one eye when I hit infield,” says Mississippi Braves coach Barbaro Garbey, who played with Detroit and Texas during a brief three-year career in the mid-’80s.

“I said, ‘Let me see what it’s like with one eye,’ and I could not do it.

“I missed the ball. And he does it so easy.”

That’s the thing. Salazar has made so much look so easy. The accident happened in early March 2011, and he was back in camp before the Braves headed north that spring.

“Usually, people who lose an eye go through depression,” Nazari says. “They don’t do anything, they feel sorry for themselves. Most people take two or three months off from work.

“But two or three weeks later, he was on the field again. He was back like nothing happened.

“That was amazing.”

If only that swing and its aftermath could be wiped from the hard drive of Brian McCann’s brain. While Salazar draws blanks from the moment of impact until the moment he woke up in the hospital, McCann remembers far too much. And you cannot help but feel for him, even all these years later.

He lights up at the mention of Salazar’s name: Really, you’re going to visit him? Say hello. Give him my best.

But he also goes dark at one specific question: Obviously, Brian, it wasn’t your fault, and there is nobody anywhere who would ever think of blaming you. Yet, even at that, all these years later…do you carry guilt?

“Now why do you have to ask that?” McCann snaps.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe it is one question too far, or too awkwardly phrased, or simply something that pokes just a little too deeply into the worst moment of a goodman’s well-decorated career.

He is Georgia-bred, which means he pretty much grew up with the Braves. They picked him in the second round of the 2002 draft, plucking him from Duluth High School in Georgia. Baseball always was a way of life: His father, Howard, coached at Marshall University. His older brother, Brad, was a first baseman in the Marlins and Royals organizations.

In the spring of 2011, the then-27-year-old was coming off his fifth National League All-Star appearance, and he was still three seasons from becoming a free agent and cashing in with the Yankees on a five-year, $85 million deal.

In other words, all he knew at the time was the Atlanta Braves.

“I’m just thankful that…you know, I think about it,” McCann, now 32, says quietly, sitting in the Yankees clubhouse this summer. “I think about it.

“It’s tough, man.”

Vividly, the Braves remember this part of Salazar’s accident, too. The McCann part, where the poor guy felt so horrible that he would have given anything he could to take that swing back. Is there a more helpless, or desperate, feeling than in the moments after a devastating accident?

Chandler has known McCann since the catcher was 18 years old, all the way back to those days after the draft when the world of professional baseball was still new and bright. He knows him to be tough and strong. But he also knows the sensitive side that McCann allows few others to see.

After the ambulance carried Salazar toward the helicopter, McCann settled back into the batter’s box to finish what now was a horrific at-bat. Two-strike count, McCann quickly waved at a pitch for strike three, then took himself out of the game and hustled back into the clubhouse.

“I remember this very well,” Chandler says. “Well-meaning people were telling Brian to stay away from the hospital. Well-meaning, because you don’t know what is going on there. ‘Don’t go to the hospital,’ they said. ‘Please don’t go to the hospital.’

“Brian came to me and said, ‘I’ve got to go.’ And I said, ‘Get in the car. Let’s go.'”

Says Teheran: “He left the game, and the next day he didn’t show up at the ballpark because he was really, really worried about Luis.”

To McCann today, so much of it is all still a blur. He remembers rushing to the hospital. Recalls sitting there praying for good news, waiting for any news.

“People were coming back and giving information,” McCann says. “At that point, you’re hoping for the best.”

Knowing this was a high-profile accident involving a Major League Baseball team, the folks at the Orlando Regional Medical Center set aside a special, private waiting area outside the emergency room for McCann, Chandler, the Salazar family, Cox, Braves president John Schuerholz and a few others.

First thing McCann did upon arrival was walk straight up to Graciela and, through his tears, wrap her in the biggest hug he could muster.

“It was powerful,” Chandler says. “His sensitivity to it, the power of Luis’ wife. Granted, she was upset, but she was so strong and full of grace that you just don’t see every day.”

Around this time, the first bit of good news arrived: Doctors knew Luis would live. That was the first enormous deep breath. Then came news that though there was severe damage to his eye, Salazar’s brain was OK.

You can do all of the extra pregame work you want, but there is no preparing for a baseball moment like that. And while those well-meaning people were warning him against racing to the hospital, McCann would change nothing about that decision.

“It was the right thing to do for Brian,” Chandler says.

“Even if he didn’t get to see Luis, he was going to see Luis’ wife and kids and express his concern. That’s another part of this story, to me, that goes unnoticed. He is a sensitive young man who obviously felt horrible, and instead of going to the corner and crying and feeling sorry for himself, he said, ‘I’ve got to do the right thing.'”

Even though he no longer plays in Atlanta, the affinity the Braves family has for him is clear. And vice versa.

“Brian is a really good guy,” Salazar says. “We stay in touch.

“Every spring training, he comes looking for me.”

And every time the Yankees play the Seattle Mariners, McCann goes looking for Franklin Gutierrez. The outfielder, you see, is Salazar’s son-in-law. Gutierrez began dating Viviana in 2003, when he was a Dodgers minor leaguer and Salazar was coaching at Vero Beach, then Los Angeles’ High-A affiliate. They married in 2007 and delivered Luis and Graciela their first grandson, Xavier, in 2013.

Usually, McCann will hit Gutierrez with a quick question from behind the plate when the outfielder steps in to hit. How’s Luis? Still doing well?

“Always, he says, ‘Tell him I said hi,'” Gutierrez says.

There is no psychological blueprint on how to handle the destruction when you’re the one who drives a baseball into another human being. Pujols, who phoned Salazar multiple times after the accident, knows this all too well.

Three seasons earlier, Pujols smoked a line drive up the middle during the third inning of a game in San Diego that crashed into pitcher Chris Young’s face. Young suffered a fractured skull and broken nose. Badly shaken when he batted again in the fourth with the bases loaded, Pujols struck out on three pitches and later was removed from the game by La Russa.

“It’s tough,” Pujols says. “The last thing you want to do is hit anybody.”

The next day, as the Cardinals traveled up the freeway to Los Angeles, a concerned Pujols, still unable to shake off the night before, phoned Young. As with McCann, it’s nobody’s fault; it’s just a bad part of the game. Maybe the most horrible part of the game. But still, guilt worms its way into the psyche.

“You care,” Pujols says. “Even though the guy was wearing a different uniform in my case, you’re talking about a life.”

Pujols echoes what McCann says: Thank God it wasn’t worse.

“I think about Luis quite often,” McCann says. “You’re playing a game, and next thing you know a ball travels in the dugout.

“You go back and, at this point, you’re thankful that it wasn’t more serious.”

See? A happy story.

“Most people have forgotten about this by now, but some, including me, got life lessons from it,” Chandler says. “I’ve learned to appreciate people more. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted.

“I don’t think about it as often now, but not a month goes by where I don’t think about Luis Salazar and his family. It’s a part of baseball that’s special.”

Salazar was a survivor long before this accident, a fact that is easily evident from scanning the 13-year career he built from 1980 to 1992 as a shortstop, third baseman and outfielder with the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs.

During that time as a super-utility man, Salazar rapped 1,070 hits, thumped 94 home runs, stole 117 bases and was acquired by then-Padres general manager Jack McKeon on three—count ’em—separate occasions.

McKeon traded for him from Pittsburgh in 1980, then shipped him along with Ozzie Guillen to the White Sox in December 1984 for starter LaMarr Hoyt. Signed him as a free agent in April 1987. Let him go after the season as a free agent but reacquired him in March 1989 in a trade with the Tigers. Then traded him to the Cubs in August 1989.

He once told McKeon, per Dave Distel of the Los Angeles Times, “Jack, you’re like my daddy. You always take care of me.”

From his current first-place perch in the Southern League’s South Division, Salazar smiles.

“I guess I was his favorite player,” he quips.

Yes, McKeon, now 85 and a special assistant to Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, phoned the hospital in Orlando a couple of times from his home in North Carolina. So, too, did front office representatives from each of the four teams Salazar played for during his career. And Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion. “I cannot tell you how many people called,” Salazar says, still visibly touched. Hundreds, he figures.

In a moment he will never forget, he was invited to Robins Air Force Base outside of Macon, Georgia, in 2013 to receive an award for courage and was presented with a United States flag that flew over Afghanistan.

Maybe that was all preparation to thicken his resolve for the biggest battle that was still up ahead. And though he’s made it look remarkably easy, it isn’t. Salazar is just back from five days away from the team because Graciela fell ill, developing pneumonia and suffering a minor heart attack.

“She passed out and I don’t know what to do,” Salazar says. “I was very scared.”

Afraid of the time it would take an ambulance to arrive if he called 911, he picked her up himself, put her in the car and raced to the hospital. Thankfully, all is good now, but how many challenges must one man face, anyway? Last year when he was managing High-A Carolina, the team bus flipped over at 3:45 a.m. on a North Carolina highway, injuring seven players, shattering windows and producing another harrowing escape.

Sitting in the front seat, Salazar lost his cellphone and his glasses in the accident, but miraculously emerged unharmed.

Then, last February, he had a fourth surgery on the eye. He had developed a sinus infection. It traveled into the eye and the socket was beginning to collapse anyway, so Nazari went back in to build it back up.

“It happens with injuries that have a lot of bone damage,” says Nazari, who put more support behind the socket so the prosthetic eye stayed in place.

At first after the injury in 2011, the Braves didn’t want him coaching third base (as most minor league managers do), but Salazar insisted. On the advice of Nazari, he always wears shatterproof glasses to make sure to keep his good eye protected. He owns five pairs, each shaded a little differently for different times of the day or night.

Otherwise, as Nazari told him before turning him loose, the only thing he cannot do is fly a plane. Salazar thinks this is funny, given that he never had a pilot’s license anyway.

So off he went, taking Nazari’s words to heart. When he and Graciela traveled home to Boca Raton, Florida, from Orlando after he was released from the hospital? He drove. He is a hands-on manager, throwing batting practice, coaching third, hitting fungoes, doing everything as if nothing of the foul-ball sort ever happened to him.

“He’s doing great,” Cox says. “He can drive like always. That’s hard. I tried it. Five-hundred feet. I couldn’t do it.”

Worst thing that can happen, Graciela told Braves president John Schuerholz as her husband laid in that hospital bed, is if he cannot go back to work.

Don’t worry, Schuerholz told her. He’s going to manage again.

“He’s been remarkable,” Jonathan Schuerholz, the assistant director of player personnel, says. “Awesome. A true pro. He cares about the players. He works his tail off. His work ethic is unmatched.”

And, inspirational. Two weeks after his most recent eye surgery in February, he was back in the hospital when a blood clot developed in his lung. He bumped into a woman there who wanted to know if she could ask him something.

Are you, she wondered cautiously and politely, the baseball man who lost his eye?

“I said yes, and she started crying,” Salazar says. “She said, ‘I have a son who lost his left eye and I read your story and it’s unbelievable.'”

The boy, 13 or 14, was in middle school and he plays baseball. Of course, Salazar was happy to talk with him, and now the boy is back on the baseball field. Just like Salazar was happy to speak with the man from Texas who wrote him a letter detailing his depression after losing an eye.

“So I called him,” Salazar says. “And then when I talked to him later, he said, ‘Thanks to you, I’m back to work. I’m playing golf.'”

In so many ways, even from a catastrophic accident, the human spirit can ascend.

“It makes me feel good to help others,” Salazar says. “Others sometimes think it’s over, but it’s not over.

“God has me here for a reason.”

Says Gutierrez: “I’m very proud of him, because he shows a lot of courage. He’s a really strong man.”

As you would expect, both Salazar and McCann follow with great interest baseball’s ongoing dilemma regarding the installation of more safety netting in ballparks throughout the land. Not that it would prevent every accident, but both men know all too well the sickening reality of unintended consequences.

So does every other person who was in the ballpark on that spring day.

Teheran says he doesn’t even like standing in the dugout anymore, that he now prefers to sit on the bench where he feels more protected.

“It’s one of those visions you never lose, no matter how many years it’s been,” says Chandler, who knows that, like clockwork, he will receive a phone call each Thanksgiving or Christmas, and it will be Salazar checking in on him and his family. “You never lose that incredible, gut-wrenching feeling when the ball hit him.”

It is 80 degrees here in Mississippi, down significantly now that an afternoon rainstorm has moved through. Stifling humidity has been downgraded to simply thick humidity. It’s how it is in this part of the country as summer flexes its muscles, but one thing hasn’t changed all season: The view is crystal clear, and it is gorgeous.

“I don’t worry that I lose one eye,” Salazar says. “I look at it like it was an accident. It happened. And when I look in the mirror now, it looks like normal. I see better now than I did with two eyes.”

In so many ways.

“People look at me as if nothing happened,” Salazar continues.

And perhaps that is the best ending possible.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Brian McCann Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Yankees Catcher

The New York Yankees are considering trading catcher Brian McCann ahead of the trade deadline on Monday, though no deal is imminent.

Continue for updates.

McCann Linked to Braves

Sunday, July 31

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported on Sunday that the “[Atlanta Braves] have discussed trading for [McCann]. It depends on how much money the Yankees are willing to eat.”

McCann previously played with the Braves from 2005 to 2013 before joining the Yankees. He’s in his third season with the Yankees after signing a five-year, $85 million deal in 2013.

McCann Expendable as Yankees Fail to Win

McCann, 32, is hitting .235/.334/.430 with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in this season. 

The Yankees (52-51) are in fourth place in the AL East. They’re six games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the division lead and 4.5 out of the AL’s second wild-card spot.

McCann hasn’t made an All-Star team since his arrival, but he’s been a generally solid addition. He is on pace for his third straight 20-homer season in New York and could clinch another two-plus WAR (FanGraphs formula) with a good second half. The Yankees have essentially jettisoned him from the lineup against left-handed pitchers in favor of Austin Romine. 

“This year, we have not been getting what we expected,” general manager Brian Cashman said, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com. “He is better than this.”

Romine would stand to see a majority of the work if McCann was dealt. The Yankees also have 23-year-old top prospect Gary Sanchez waiting in the wings. Sanchez is hitting .286/.333/.478 with 10 home runs and 48 runs batted in for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

Moving McCann now would clear Sanchez to split catching duties with Romine for the remainder of 2016 and perhaps set up a full-time job in 2017. The Yankees already have too many aging players who need time at the designated hitter spot, so McCann has essentially become expendable.

The biggest issue would be his contract, which teams would no doubt expect New York to pay part of. The Yankees are currently on the hook for at least $34 million in 2017 and 2018, and there is a vesting option for $15 million in 2019, should McCann hit certain playing-time barriers. He also has a full no-trade clause, so he would have to approve any trade.


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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Brian McCann Finally Showing Why Yankees Gave Him $85M Deal

The immediate thought was “bust” after the 2014 season.

Maybe because it was the New York Yankees paying out the contract and were already in the process of paying out a few others that could be labeled in a similar way—Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran. It could have been that the player was starting a huge long-term contract shortly after his 30th birthday.

But most of all, it was Brian McCann’s numbers. All of them, from the five years and $85 million on his deal to his .232/.286/.406 slash line and .692 OPS. All were below 2014 American League averages except for his .406 slugging percentage, and they all shouted McCann’s could be another fat contract the Yankees would regret agreeing to.

There was even the belief that McCann, a heavy-hitting catcher from Athens, Georgia, could not handle playing under the hot spotlights in New York.

“New York is not Brian. That’s my opinion,” Terry Pendleton, McCann’s former hitting coach with the Atlanta Braves, told the New York Post‘s Dan Martin about a year ago as McCann struggled in his first season with the Yankees. “I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that.

“If I had to choose where he went, nothing against the Yankees, they’re one of the best organizations around,” Pendleton added, “but I think he’d be more comfortable in Texas.”

That was a strong opinion and made national news last July. But a calendar year later, the outlook on McCann has drastically changed.

McCann is fourth among catchers in American League All-Star balloting, but he is more than six million votes behind Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, so he has no chance to start. But that McCann had nine home runs, 39 RBI and a .264/.324/.473 line through Sunday means he could be a reserve. His .796 OPS, .342 weighted on-base average (wOBA), 118 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and 1.6 WAR in the same time frame were all better than Perez, according to Fangraphs.

That WAR also is second on the Yankees among position players.

McCann making an All-Star team would be a nice accolade. More important than his candidacy, though, is that his offensive numbers are playing a critical role in the Yankees being at or around the top of the AL East standings all season.

McCann was mostly healthy last year—he missed six games because of a concussion and two with a sore foot—so his poor production was baffling, especially when you consider he averaged an .827 OPS, 119 OPS+ and 21 home runs for the Braves in the previous eight seasons, according to Baseball-Reference. He also made seven All-Star teams in that time.

Last season was bad overall, but it was particularly bad in the second half. Despite 12 home runs in August and September giving him a respectable season total of 23, McCann hit .219 in August and .222 in September. His OBPs were .282 and .281, respectively. His power and ability to handle the pitching staff were the only things that justified keeping him in the lineup, because he was mostly bad in every other offensive aspect.

This season there is no such concern about McCann’s offensive abilities. The home runs are still there as he’s taken advantage of his left-handed swing and Yankee Stadium’s short right-field fence, with seven of his nine homers coming at home, and all of them having been pull shots, via ESPN Home Run Tracker.

He’s been the team’s best hitter at home. His .464 wOBA and 201 wRC+ lead the team at Yankee Stadium, as do his .414 OBP and .696 OPS through Sunday.

“It’s one of the big reasons we went and got him, because we thought his swing was built for this ballpark,” manager Joe Girardi told the New York Post‘s Howie Kussoy. “It’s shown up.”

McCann himself understands the importance of taking advantage of his surroundings.

“It sets up good for my swing. It’s nice hitting here,” McCann told Kussoy. “When you’re hitting top of the rotation starters, that’s what good teams do.”

McCann has been a bit luckier this season, his BABIP rising by 48 points proving as much. Aside from that, making slightly less soft contact and taking more strikes, which has led to a nearly 4 percent strikeout increase, there is not a lot to tell us why McCann has been a better hitter.

As long as it continues to happen, McCann will no longer be viewed as another of the Yankees’ busted acquisitions, and the better their chances to return to the postseason for the first time since 2012.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired first-hand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Brian McCann Injury: Updates on Yankees Catcher’s Concussion and Return

Updates from Saturday, Aug. 9

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has the latest on Brian McCann‘s status for Saturday’s game:

Hoch also noted that McCann was placed on the seven-day disabled list:

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com provides an update on McCann’s status from Yankees manager Joe Girardi:

Manager Joe Girardi said a doctor can decide whether McCann is healthy enough to play. Whether McCann goes on the DL likely hinges on that decision.

McCann told the team his jaw hurt after the foul tip, but later he told manager Joe Girardi that he didn’t feel right, though he couldn’t find the right words to explain it. …

“But with what we know now and what has gone on when someone tells me he doesn’t quite feel right,” Girardi said, “I’m going to be cautious.”


Original Text

The New York Yankees are locked in a battle for American League wild-card positioning with the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals, but that late-season push got a bit more difficult Friday. 

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com filled fans in on the latest regarding the health of catcher Brian McCann:

McCann left the team’s game against the Cleveland Indians Friday after going 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored.

McCann has struggled to live up to expectations with the Bronx Bombers this season and sports a .238 batting average with 13 home runs and 49 RBI. What’s more, his on-base percentage is a lowly .294, but the concussion comes at a difficult time because he hit a home run in his previous contest Wednesday.

If McCann can find a way to turn the corner and increase his production down the stretch, the Yankees lineup becomes much more formidable. For now, though, he will have to wait for a few days.

Check back for updates as they develop.

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Twitter Reacts to the Start of New York Yankees’ Spring Training

Entering the official start of spring training 2014, one thing is clear: the New York Yankees are Major League Baseball’s most talked about team.

The newest edition of spring training in Tampa Bay for the Yankees took on an entirely different feel when Derek Jeter announced his upcoming retirement back on February 12th. The face of the sport (no offense, Eric Sogard) will arguably be the story of the season as the most recent era in team history comes to a close. Let’s just hope the Jeter Farewell Tour comes with better gifts than the Mariano Rivera one did (really, Texas Rangers? Cowboy boots for a guy from Panama?)

However, the truly most important story lines for the Bombers in spring training are to see what they can expect to yield from their off-season spending spree and how a roster with a surprisingly high number of question marks despite the payroll comes together.  

Can the trio of Jeter/Mark Teixeira/CC Sabathia bounce back from rough 2013? Can Jacoby Ellsbury stay healthy? What exactly can we expect from Masahiro Tanaka? Does David Robertson really have what it takes to replace Mariano Rivera? There’s only one place that has all these answers: Twitter. 

To make the playoffs this year, the Yankees will most likely need to build on last year’s 85-win campaign. That total might sound easy to build off considering the winter’s price tag, but as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets, maybe the Yankees weren’t actually that good. 

A 79-win caliber team minus that team’s best player, one Robinson Cano? Sounds like a tough task to overcome for Joe Girardi. That’s why the quartet of Carlos Beltran, Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Tanaka could make or break the year for New York.

However, all four of those signees come with question marks (at this point, the question mark might as well be the team’s logo this year). We don’t know how Tanaka‘s stuff will translate. Ellsbury‘s games played per year have as been inconsistent as anyone in the league over the course of his career. Beltran is not exactly a spring chicken. McCann is probably the surest bet of the bunch, but even he is beginning 2014 on the wrong side of 30.

One of Ellsbury‘s former managers thinks that success will follow, as long as he stays on the field.

McCann is expected to be a staple in a Yankee lineup that could very well be formidable. Even if McCann has a “down year,” it would be almost impossible for his season to qualify as a positional downgrade from 2013, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out.

When Tanaka signed, there were two numbers that stood out: a 24-0 record last year in Japan, and a $155 million contract. Critics of the deal have theorized that Tanaka‘s performance won’t match the payday, but Sports on Earth’s Jonathan Bernhardt says even if he’s not great, it’ll be okay for New York.

“If it turns out that New York paid superstar money for a pitcher who is merely very good, fine; the Yankees are a license to print money, and young pitchers who are “merely very good” don’t grow on trees.”

One player who is no lock to make the Opening Day roster, but could make a difference is the enigma known as Michael Pineda. It’s been two full years since we last saw the right-hander in a Major League game, but ESPN’s Buster Olney says there is reason to be optimistic. 

There’s been much talk about Jeter’s last year and what it means for the franchise in the long-term, but in the short-run, no one really knows what to expect from the captain. 

Before his spring training debut on February 27th, Brian Cashman made it clear that on his list of concerns, Jeter is no where near the top, according to Newsday’s David Lennon.


In case you hadn’t heard, Rivera is no longer active. In his place is Robertson, a very good reliever in his own right, but someone who has little experience ending games in big spots. That won’t stop Robertson from thinking he can pitch at an elite level, according to ESPN’s Ian O’Connor.

There’s no doubt the Yankees have upgraded since the end of last season. However, they have some ground to make up in the division. The Red Sox are the reigning World Champions, the Rays have one of the best rotations in all of the league, and the Orioles made some moves late in the off-season to bolster their roster.

The most important Yankee might very well be Teixeira. The Yankees’ infield could potentially be a trainwreck, but if Teixeira can somehow re-create his first three years in the Bronx this year, that could theoretically change the entire lineup. 

Jeter’s last year will be a season-long parade of honors and accolades, but a 39-year-old who might as well not have played in 2013 with a severe ankle injury is as big of a question mark as it comes. It would be very Jeter of Jeter to hit .320 this year, but somewhere in the .280 range is more realistic, if not maybe a best-case scenario for New York. 

Sabathia made news in the off-season for his weight loss, but his season will ultimately come down to another type of loss: velocity. 2013 was arguably the worst season of Sabathia’s career, but he’ll still take the mound April 1st when the Yankees open their season in Houston. His development in spring training could be the most important thing for Girardi & Co. as the team tries to avoid a second straight postseason-less year. 


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Why Brian McCann and the New York Yankees Are the Perfect Fit

New York Yankees catchers made for a living, breathing definition of the term “pushover” in 2013. Combined, they managed just a .289 on-base percentage and 26 extra-base hits.

Thanks to the club’s latest signing, however, the position can now be considered upgraded.

As Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News was first to report, the Yankees have agreed to terms with the top catcher on the free-agent market: 29-year-old slugger Brian McCann. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has the terms of the now-former Atlanta Brave’s deal:

That would be an average of $17 million per year, which Rosenthal subsequently noted is the highest average annual value ever given to a free-agent catcher. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says the deal also includes a full no-trade clause.

This is the first free-agent contract worth over $80 million handed out by the Yankees since that wild spending spree they went on prior to the 2009 season. After they didn’t even want to match the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ offer of two years and $17 million for Russell Martin last winter. This deal with McCann does have a sort of “Back in the game!” feel to it.

And in the end, it should prove to be money well spent.

Now, before we get into the good stuff, it should be acknowledged that there are red flags growing out of McCann’s head (not literally…to my knowledge). Chief among them are that he has a lot of miles on his body and that his bat isn’t foolproof.

McCann is only through his age-29 season, but he’s already started over 1,000 games at catcher. That’s an awful lot of time in the crouch, and it’s taken its toll. Three of his McCann’s four trips to the disabled list have happened since 2009, and he battled shoulder woes in 2012 before going in for surgery. His recovery cost him the beginning of the 2013 season.

It’s because of the shoulder trouble that the 87 OPS+ McCann posted in 2012 can be forgiven. But while he did turn around to the tune of a 115 OPS+ in 2013, his OPS dropped from .910 in the first half to .680 in the second half. With no injury to blame these struggles on, maybe he was just worn out.

But here’s where we start tiptoeing into the bright side. 

Simply by virtue of being an American League team, the Yankees should be able to keep McCann fresher than the Braves were able to. All it will take is some semi-regular duty at designated hitter.

McCann’s hardly a defensive liability behind the plate, mind you. He’s not among the greats at controlling the running game, but he works well with pitchers and is one of the better framers out there. He’s not one of these guys who’s a hitter first and a catcher second (a la what Mike Napoli used to be).

However, getting the most out of McCann’s contract undoubtedly means getting the most out of his bat. Getting him out of the crouch as often as possible is the best way for the Yankees to do that.

Any American League team could have done the same, of course, but only the Yankees could give McCann the other thing that should help them get the most out of his bat: Yankee Stadium.

We all know what the deal is with Yankee Stadium’s right field porch. Second basemen have to be careful not to bump into it when they turn around for a leisurely stroll, and all it takes for a left-handed batter to hit the ball over the fence is a flick of the wrists.

Per Baseball-Reference.com, the 598 home runs Yankee Stadium has yielded to lefty hitters since its opening in 2009 is the most in MLB. The only ballpark even remotely close is Orioles Park at Camden Yards, which has yielded 500 home runs to lefty batters since 2009.

The lefty-swinging McCann ought to like the idea that this is about to be his new home ballpark. He already holds the distinction of being one of the 10 best power-hitting catchers through the age of 29 in MLB history, and he owes that to his pull power.

According to Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, McCann’s career power splits look like this:

Few lefty batters have hit for as much pull power as McCann since he came into the league in 2005. From then until now, his .396 ISO on balls to right field ranks 15th among all lefty batters who have hit at least 700 balls in that direction.

And lest the thought cross anyone’s mind, McCann’s not losing his touch. His .514 ISO on balls to right field in 2013 ranked fourth-best among lefty hitters. Not even Chris Davis was his equal at pulling the ball for power.

McCann is always good for 20 home runs a year. He’s hit that number six years in a row, and seven out of eight overall. Yet he’s never tended to go that far over 20 home runs, topping out at a 24 home runs on two occasions.

But now that he’s going to be a Yankee, it’s not crazy to think that McCann will be a regular bet for 25 or even 30 home runs. His new home ballpark is bound to give him a few extra dingers, and his power will have an easier time lasting a full season if the Yankees make sure he gets his days at DH.

That signing with the Yankees ought to increase McCann’s annual power output makes $17 million per year sound like a more-than-fair deal. That’s not a ridiculous amount of money in this day and age, especially not for a power-hitting catcher. They’re as rare a breed as they’ve ever been.

There’s another thing about $17 million per year, though. In addition to a more-than-fair rate for a catcher with great power, that’s also an acceptable rate for a first baseman with relatively not-great power.

And we bring that up, of course, because that’s bound to be what McCann is a few years down the line.

The end of Mark Teixeira’s eight-year contract is nigh. He’s only signed through the 2016 season, giving him three more seasons in pinstripes before he goes poof.

We can envision the following scenario for McCann: He’ll spend his age 30-32 seasons catching and DH’ing, and then he’ll pull a Joe Mauer and transition over to first base for at least the last two guaranteed years of his contract after Teixeira is gone.

Based on his track record, McCann doesn’t profile as anything more than an average first baseman. He owns a 117 career OPS+. As Dan Szymborski pointed out in an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required) back in October, all of MLB’s first basemen combined for a 116 OPS+ in 2013. According to FanGraphs, 10 qualified first basemen did better than McCann’s .205 ISO. It is indeed the position for a power hitter.

But since we’re taking it for granted that playing regularly at Yankee Stadium will serve to increase McCann’s power, the Yankees could well have more than just an average offensive first baseman on their hands if and when they have McCann take Teixeira’s place after the 2016 season. And by then, $17 million per year may actually be under the going rate for a first baseman who can hit a little bit.

There’s always risk with these big-money long-term deals. Due in no small part to their own numbskullery, the Yankees know this as well as anyone. 

But here’s me going out on a limb to say the Yankees aren’t going to regret this one. McCann’s now in a league that can take care of his battle-hardened body, in a ballpark that’s a perfect fit for his power stroke, and on a team that should have him out of the crouch by the time his deal is up.

In short, this is a rare time when celebrating in McCann’s vicinity should be OK.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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