Brian McCann Rumors

NL Notes: Ibanez, O’Flaherty, Cardinals, Halladay

Earlier today, MLBTR posted a batch of notes from the National League West. Now, let's take a look at the other teams playing in the Senior Circuit:

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Price, Orioles, Axford, Hinske

Since 2008, teams that have traded top-of-the-rotation pitchers usually haven't gotten much in return, ESPN's Mike Petriello argues (Insider-only). The Diamondbacks' trade of Dan Haren for Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders was unusual, Petriello argues. Instead, what typically happens looks more like the weak returns various teams have received when they dealt Cliff Lee. The Indians' trade of C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers, which produed Michael Brantley and little else. That's worth keeping in mind as we prepare for weeks of rumors involving David Price and the Rays. The Rays did, of course, pull off one very good trade of a high-level starting pitcher when they shipped James Shields (and Wade Davis) to Kansas City in return for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and others. But that doesn't mean they can do it twice. Here are more notes on the AL East.

  • The Orioles have already lost Scott Feldman (Astros) and Nate McLouth (Nationals) to free agency and Jim Johnson (Athletics) to a trade, and the team seems "unwilling to make even a cursory attempt to compete for quality talent outside the organization," Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes. With only Ryan Webb, Francisco Peguero, Jemile Weeks and a few other low-profile acquisitions on the other side of the docket so far, "fans have every right to wonder what exactly is their plan to compete for the American League East title," Schmuck says.
  • The Orioles, along with the Cubs and Mariners, are all interested in John Axford, who was non-tendered by the Cardinals last week, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who also suggests that Axford has a chance of landing a job as a closer.
  • Eric Hinske only worked in the Yankees' scouting department for a month before leaving to become the Cubs' first base coach, but he helped convince Brian McCann to sign on for five years in New York, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes. Hinske and McCann played together in Atlanta from 2010 through 2013. "[Hinske] was involved. He helped me with Brian McCann," says Yankees GM Brian Cashman. "So I appreciate Eric Hinske giving Brian McCann a lot of good advice about his experience here with the Yankees. He was a great resource for about 30 days."

Yankees Sign Brian McCann

1:20pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post has details on the contract (Twitter links). McCann will earn $17MM per season from 2014-18. His 2019 option will vest if he totals 1,000 PAs from 2017-18, catches 90 games in 2018 and is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2018 season. Should his option vest, McCann has the right to void it and hit the open market.

10:30am: The Yankees' decision to let Russell Martin depart as a free agent and use in-house options at catcher last offseason proved to be costly, but general manager Brian Cashman has made sure to upgrade that hole in his lineup in the biggest possible way. The Yankees officially announced today that they have signed Brian McCann to a five-year contract. Reportedly worth $85MM, the contract also contains a sixth-year vesting option that can push the total value to an even $100MM. McCann, who is represented by B.B. Abbott of Jet Sports Management, will also reportedly receive a full no-trade clause.

USATSI_7317710

As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes in his article on the deal, the average yearly salary McCann will receive, $17MM, is the highest ever given to a catcher in free agency. While Joe Mauer's average yearly rate of $24MM remains the record for catchers overall, the Twins have said that Mauer will transition to first base on a full-time basis beginning next season, meaning McCann is set to become the game's highest-paid backstop.

McCann posted a typically strong offensive season in 2013, hitting .256/.336/.461 in 402 plate appearances, but he's likely to see his power rise significantly with the presence of the short porch in Yankee Stadium's right field. McCann's defense is also rated highly by various metrics. While his 2013 total of 102 games in 2013 represented a career-low for a full season, the 29-year-old has usually been a durable catcher. Switching to the AL should also allow him to transition to DH as he ages.

McCann was this offseason's top free agent catcher and one of the top free agents overall. While the Yankees had options such as Chris Stewart and Austin Romine in the mix for their 2014 backstop job, the signing represents a significant upgrade. The Yanks forfeit the 18th overall pick in the June draft in signing McCann, while the Braves, the catcher's former team, gain a pick after the first round.

The Rangers and the Red Sox were also known to be targeting McCann. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is now likely the best remaining free agent option behind the plate.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News was the first to report that the Yankees and McCann were close to a deal.  Rosenthal first reported that the agreement was in place and was also the first to report the terms (Twitter links)Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the deal's no-trade clause.

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



New York Links: Citi Field, Cano, McCann

What better to go with your Thanksgiving apple crisp than some baseball news from the Big Apple?  Here's the latest from the Mets and Yankees…

  • Citi Field's reputation as a pitchers' park has generated concerns amongst some of the Mets' free agent targets, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.  Though Citi Field's fences were brought in before the 2012 season, the club's pitcher-friendly history is “something that is still in the (players’) heads out there, that it’s a tough park to hit in,” one agent said.  "They see what David Wright went through there and it makes them a little nervous I think."  As Ackert notes, Citi Field allowed an average of 1.2 home runs per game in 2013, the tenth-most of any stadium in the majors.
  • The Mets have an interest in signing right-hander Armando Galarraga and southpaw Victor Garate, Rafael Tejera reports (via Twitter).  Both pitchers have also been offered contracts by teams in Asia.  As ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes, the Mets would "undoubtedly" only be interested in the two hurlers on minor league deals.
  • The Yankees were set on Brian McCann as their top catching target and had only passing interest in Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  The Bombers made no "serious overtures" to Ruiz and had slightly more substantive talks with Saltalamacchia, though one industry source described Salty only as the Yankees' "Plan B" if McCann signed elsewhere.
  • "There’s no imaginable, alternate usage of the Yankees’ resources that will give them a roster superior to one featuring [Robinson] Cano," Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes.  Cano will "get paid" by someone, however, as all elite free agents do, and Davidoff expects the Yankees to pay at least $200MM to retain the second baseman.  If another team goes substantially beyond a projected eight-year/$200MM offer, then Davidoff says the Yankees "would have an intellectual right" to let Cano leave.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Yankees free agent hurler Phil Hughes should be able to find a multiyear on the open market, which puts the Mets out of the running for the right-hander's services.

AL East Notes: McLouth, McCann, Orioles, Samardzija

The Yankees are interested in Nate McLouth writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but more as a backup plan to primary targets such as Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson. The Orioles remain in the mix for McLouth, and Rosenthal adds that the chances of McLouth going to the Yankees appear "slim." Still, he points out, the very fact that they're keeping tabs on McLouth speaks to the wide net they've cast this winter and the "tangled web of the Yankees' offseason." Here's more out of the AL East …

  • We just hit on some Red Sox notes, but also within the report of WEEI.com's Alex Speier are some quotes from Sox backstop David Ross, who spoke with former teammate Brian McCann about coming to Boston. McCann expressed to Ross that years were the primary factor in his decision to join the Yankees. It didn't hurt, Ross added, that McCann relishes the idea of swinging into Yankee Stadium's welcoming right field fence.
  • "We've been focused on adding some pitching depth, and that's been accomplished so far," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com following today's acquisition of Brad Brach. Duquette also acknowledged that most of the work to be done still lies ahead: "It's only Nov. 25. We're working to set up the team to be competitive next season."
  • We also learned earlier today that Duquette expects to tender contracts to all of the club's players that are eligible for arbitration.
  • Recent reports have linked the Blue Jays to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, but the club has not made any trade offers to acquire a starter, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm). Though Anthopoulos did not deny interest, or that the club has talked things over with Chicago, he did dampen expectations of any major news before the Winter Meetings. "Before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there's that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate," said Anthopoulos. "So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we'll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point."

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Yankees Make Best Possible Catcher Upgrade In McCann

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.


Early Reactions To The McCann Deal

Let's take a look at some of the early reactions to the Yankees' reported five-year, $85MM deal for Brian McCann:

  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets that the Rockies were "very aggressive" in angling for McCann but weren't prepared to offer $100MM to a player that will probably be DHing by the contract's end.
  • While the Rangers lost out on McCann, there are still players available that would boost the team's offense, Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News writes. Texas continues to seriously consider Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran for their left field job, while Jacoby Ellsbury and re-signing Nelson Cruz are also possibilities.
  • With McCann off the board, the Rangers could also target a catcher who bats from the left side on a short-term deal, then platoon him with Geovany Soto, Grant writes. As a switch hitter, Dioner Navarro would appear to fit that bill.
  • The Red Sox were interested in McCann, but their offer wasn't close to what he ended up getting, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets.
  • In a post for ESPN Insiders (sub. req'd.), Keith Law writes that the signing addresses the Yankees' most pressing need and projects that the deal will ultimately be "one of the most sensible" agreements of the offseason. While Law admits that five years is a lot to commit to a catcher, McCann should be able to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right porch to boost his power numbers. His article also suggests that McCann's strong framing skills add value in a way that isn't reflected in current defensive metrics. 
  • The Braves remained in discussions with McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott, as recently as Friday, David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says (Twitter link). However, they weren't invovled in the multi-year bidding for the catcher. The Braves will receive a draft pick after the first round becuase of the signing, O'Brien notes.

Stark’s Latest: Cano, Price, Ruiz, Red Sox, Wilson, Nathan

For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece…

  • Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
  • The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
  • The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
  • The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
  • Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.

Brian McCann Closing In On Deal With Yankees

5:09pm: The deal is for five years and $85MM and has a sixth-year vesting option that could boost the contract's value to $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The deal is simply pending a physical, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet.

4:51pm: The deal could be worth close to $90MM, if not more, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

4:41pm: McCann is closing in on a five-year, $80MM+ deal with the Yankees, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Two other sources tell Rosenthal (Twitter link) that the Rockies made a late, strong run at McCann.

4:13pm: Brian McCann is on the verge of a long-term deal with the Yankees, two sources tell Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.  McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott, told Grant that he could not confirm that his client had agreed to terms with any team.

McCann, soon-to-be 30, is also said to be on the radar for the Red Sox and Rangers this offseason.  The veteran hit .256/.336/.461 in 102 games for the Braves last season and has been widely regarded as this winter's top free agent catcher over Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  The backstop ranks fourth on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agents List for this offseason.


New York Notes: Mets, Peralta, Hughes, Nathan

The Mets are currently dealing with sticker shock when looking at free agent demands, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. One example, says Puma, is Jhonny Peralta, whom the Mets initially believed they could land on a two-year deal. Peralta, however, is said to be seeking more than $45MM on at least a three-year deal. Here's more out of the Big Apple…