Transaction Rumors

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.


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.

Pirates Release Kelly Shoppach

The Pirates have released Kelly Shoppach from their Triple-A affiliate, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports via Twitter.

Shoppach, 33, didn't appear in a major league game for the Pirates after being signed to a minor league deal earlier this month. Pittsburgh was the catcher's third team this year, as he began the season with the Mariners but was released in June after hitting .196/.293/.346 in 35 games. He then signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in early July, but opted out of the deal without reappearing in the big leagues.

Shoppach has a career .224/.312/.413 line in parts of nine major league seasons. Though he's never made good on the promise of his 2008 season with the Indians, when he hit .261/.348/.517 with 21 homers, he may still be an effective option against lefties, as he's slashed .261/.355/.501 against them for his career.

Minor Moves: Astros, Rivera, Branyan, Igarashi

The latest minor moves from around MLB…

  • The Astros released first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand and right-hander Lance Pendleton, Brian McTaggart of tweets.
  • The Brewers released catcher Mike Rivera, according to the team (via media relations director Mike Vassallo on Twitter). The 35-year-old appeared in one game with the 2011 Brewers and has experience in nine MLB seasons.
  • The Yankees announced that they released Russell Branyan from his minor league contract and re-signed him to a new one. The Yankees appear to save $100K with the maneuver. 
  • The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Ryota Igarashi from the Pirates for cash considerations or a player to be named later, Shi Davidi of reports (Twitter links). Davidi suggests the Blue Jays will likely assign Igarashi to Triple-A. The 32-year-old appeared in 45 games for the 2011 Mets, posting a 4.66 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings.
  • The Phillies announced that they traded minor league first baseman Matt Rizzotti to the Twins for cash considerations today. The 26-year-old spent the 2011 season at Double-A Reading and posted a .295/.392/.511 line with 24 home runs, 34 doubles and 79 walks in 587 plate appearances. 

Blue Jays Claim Jim Hoey

The Blue Jays claimed reliever Jim Hoey off waivers from the Twins, GM Terry Ryan confirmed on ESPN 1500 (hat tip: Aaron Gleeman).  Hoey indicated the same on Twitter.

Hoey, 28, struggled in 24 2/3 innings with the Twins this year, his first big league action since 2007.  He posted a 3.83 ERA in 42 1/3 Triple-A innings.  The Twins acquired the hard-throwing Hoey a year ago in the J.J. Hardy deal.

International Links: Nishioka, Twins, Blanco

Patrick Newman from NPB Tracker and MLBTR's Nick Collias relay some information from foreign sources:

  • According to Newman, the Chiba Lotte Marines made a conditional agreement last offseason to allow Tsuyoshi Nishioka to move to MLB. This explains the otherwise puzzling move to post Nishioka coming off his strongest season, with three years left before he's eligible for free agency. Newman says the decision to post Nishioka will be resolved by the 17th.
  • According to this article (translated by Collias), the Twins signed right-handed reliever Yorman Bazardo to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The 26-year-old has previously been with the Marlins, Tigers, Mariners, and Astros organizations. He's seen 60 1/3 innings in the big leagues, but hasn't duplicated his minor league success (3.89 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 5.4 K/9 in 1091 innings).
  • In a second article translated by Collias, we hear that the Rangers have told Andres Blanco that they view him as either an outfielder or catcher, but no longer as an infielder. The 26-year-old will work out at both positions in the Venezuelan winter leagues to try to earn another spot with the Rangers. In 68 games (185 PAs) this season, Blanco hit .277/.330/.349 while backing up Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.

Braves Sign Matt Lipka

The Braves signed top pick Matt Lipka, according to's Mark Bowman (via Twitter). Bowman notes that Atlanta also signed seventh rounder Matt Suschak (Twitter link). The Braves, who chose Lipka 35th overall, signed the supplementary rounder for a slot bonus of $800K, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Lipka, 18, is a high school shortstop from Texas and had committed to playing at the University of Alabama. He hit .400 in high school, went 10-3 with a 1.43 ERA as a pitcher and also starred on the football field. Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio told Bowman that the Braves like Lipka's speed.

"We needed some speed in the organization, plus he plays in the middle of the diamond," DeMacio said. "He's got a plus arm. He's a plus fielder. He's got makeup off the chart. He's just a winning type of player."

DeMacio says the Braves believe Lipka can play shortstop or center field.

Royals Claim Kanekoa Texeira

The Royals claimed pitcher Kanekoa Texeira off of waivers from the Mariners and designated right-hander Brad Thompson for assignment to make room for Texeira, according to a team press release. 

The Mariners designated Texeira and Jesus Colome for assignment two days ago. The Yankees acquired Texeira in the 2008 deal that brought Nick Swisher to the Bronx, but they saw the Mariners claim the 24-year-old Hawaiian in last winter's Rule 5 draft. The Royals have to expose Texeira to waivers if they decide to take him off their active roster this year. If no team were to claim Texeira on waivers, the Royals would have to offer him back to the Yankees.

Kanekoa relied on a 90 mph fastball, a change-up and a slider in Seattle, where he posted a 5.30 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 16 appearances this year. He has a 2.49 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in four minor league seasons.

Brian Bass Clears Waivers

SATURDAY, 12:47pm:'s Jenifer Langosch reports that Bass has cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A.

MONDAY, 3:03pm: The Pirates designated Brian Bass for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). The right-hander is out of options, so he'll be exposed to other clubs, but the Pirates wanted to make room for Ross Ohlendorf

Bass, 28, allowed nine hits and eight walks in 6.1 innings for the Pirates this season for a 12.79 ERA. The Pirates signed Bass to a minor league deal in January, a month after the Orioles non-tendered him. Bass appeared in 48 games for the Orioles last year, logging 86.1 innings. He allowed 106 hits a year ago with 5.6 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 so it wasn't a surprise when the Orioles declined to offer Bass a contract.

Within ten days we'll see Bass traded, released or, if he clears waivers, assigned to the minor leagues. Bass has been just part of the problem for a Pirates pitching staff that ranks last in the National League in runs allowed (195) and earned runs allowed (179).