When the 2013-2014 offseason is said and done, there are going to be many major signings no one saw coming in September, in terms of the contract or the destination. The Yankees' five-year, $85MM deal with catcher Brian McCann won't be one of them. The Yankees were in dire need of catching and a middle of the order bat, they have payroll flexibility, and McCann was easily the best option.
McCann's contract wasn't much beyond expectations, though agent B.B. Abbott did score significant value additions in a full no-trade clause and a sixth-year vesting option. Not all free agents of this caliber are able to secure full no-trade clauses. For example, B.J. Upton and Jose Reyes did not. As for the vesting option, its value will depend on how easily attainable it is.
For the Yankees, McCann is an upgrade on the magnitude of perhaps three wins above replacement, since they had Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine on the depth chart at catcher. He's a good fit for their ballpark, and can transition to a part-time designated hitter role toward the end of the contract. McCann doesn't turn 30 until February, though, so I doubt he's thinking much about the DH position except as a way to grab some extra at-bats. Locking down a surefire middle of the order bat was important for the Yankees, as before this signing the heart of their 2014 order was Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano.
The November contract for McCann is also a sign the Yankees will be true to their word about not letting Robinson Cano hold up their offseason. They've snagged the fourth-best free agent in McCann. While the lines of communication will surely remain open with Cano, it seems the Yankees will move right along looking at Carlos Beltran and a cast of other top free agents. The Yankees do have a payroll limit, and as they continue putting free agent notches in their belt, the money available for Cano will have to be reduced.