5:28pm: In something of a contrary report, ESPN.com’s Andrew Marchand says that the organization doesn’t believe it should or will send money to facilitate a deal involving McCann. Of course, these can be squared in a way: Passan’s report suggests that the team would only pay part of McCann’s ongoing obligations if it was to receive a substantial return, which would suggest a scenario in which the Yankees were effectively buying other assets with cash.
1:50pm: Brian McCann’s name has predictably surfaced in trade rumors this winter, following Gary Sanchez’s breakout in New York, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports provides the latest update, tweeting that the Yankees are willing to eat as much as $17MM of the remaining $34MM on McCann’s contract but want “multiple top young players in return.”
The 32-year-old McCann (33 in February) isn’t the offensive force that he once was behind the plate but has still drilled 20+ homers in nine consecutive seasons and is coming off a .242/.335/.413 season that represents a significantly above-average year offensive year relative to other backstops around the league. He has a full no-trade clause as part of the five-year, $85MM deal he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2014 season, although McCann must also recognize that Sanchez will catch the majority of the Yankees’ games next season, so perhaps he’d approve a deal to a team that allows him more time behind the dish. In addition to the no-trade clause, the remaining $34MM on his contract was a potentially major roadblock for interested teams, although the Yankees’ willingness to pay down up to 50 percent of that certainly makes McCann a reasonable financial investment.
That said, I’d have to imagine that many teams would still balk at the idea of surrendering top-tier prospects for a 33-year-old catcher, even if he’s “only” on a two-year, $17MM commitment. The free-agent market bears numerous younger options, including Matt Wieters, Jason Castro and a currently injured Wilson Ramos. McCann remains an above-average pitch-framer, but his caught-stealing rate took a step back last season and some clubs will inevitably wonder how well he can hold up behind the plate over the final two seasons of his deal. There’s sure to be interest, given the level of money the Yankees are apparently willing to commit, but depending on how literally one takes Passan’s adjectives of “top” and “young,” finding a sufficient return could be tough.
And it should be noted that despite the Yankees’ preference to get younger, holding onto McCann is far from a terrible outcome. He can still serve as the team’s backup catcher on days that Sanchez can’t get behind the plate, and he has enough bat to get semi-regular plate appearances as a DH. While the $17MM price tag is excessive for a player with a good-not-great bat and only occasional time behind the dish, the Yankees can afford to make it work.
The Astros are reported to be one team with interest in McCann and are said to be “desperate” to add a catcher and a left-handed bat, so McCann’s appeal there certainly makes some sense. He could pair with right-handed-hitting Evan Gattis to give the ’Stros a pair of sluggers that will see most of the time behind the plate and would help to balance out a righty-heavy lineup there. McCann’s former team, the Braves, were also commonly linked to him in August after he cleared revocable trade waivers. At one point, Atlanta was said to be willing to pay half of McCann’s contract, which would suggest that there’s a potential match at present from a financial perspective. However, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported in September that if the Braves were to pay that much of the contract, they wouldn’t be willing to send significant prospects back to the Yankees.