Brian McCann and the New York Yankees have agreed to an $85 million, five-year deal, with a sixth-year vesting option that could push McCann's total haul to $100 million when all is said and done. While this is a lot to pay a catcher (and perhaps represents an overreaction to the unmitigated disaster of enduring the horror of watching Chris Stewart start a hundred games in 2013), there is no doubt the Yankees addressed perhaps the biggest hole in their lineup.
Overall, while the price tag is a bit steep, and he's had some injury issues the past two years, this is a good deal for both McCann and the Yankees. The Yankees just had to upgrade behind the plate this season and now they have their catcher for the foreseeable future. McCann, well, McCann got paid, and paid handsomely.
But chances are he'll be worth it.
McCann is no doubt one of the best offensive catchers in the game. He won four straight Silver Slugger awards from 2008-2011 (and five total) and has played in seven All-Star Games. His career line of .277/.350/.473 with a 117 wRC+, coupled with his consistent ability to hit 20 home runs and record over 75 RBI in a season, show that he'll become a dependable bat in the heart of the Yankee lineup. Also, the short porch in right will no doubt boost his power numbers.
His defensive numbers are a bit underwhelming (he threw out just 24% of would-be base stealers last year), but McCann was still by far the best catcher in this free agent class. With the top catchers in the game like Yadier Molina and Buster Posey locked up to long term deals, he is the best catcher that would've been available any time soon.
With McCann's bat, he can be slotted into the DH spot in a few years, or moved to first base when Mark Teixeira's deal expires in 2016 as Jason suggested. This will give the Yankees the option to bring up Gary Sanchez or J.R. Murphy when they're ready, without rushing them, all the while still getting plenty of value out of their new addition. Signing McCann makes a lot of sense: it gives the Yankees a good catcher now, a dependable power bat for the future, and the flexibility to keep developing their talented catching prospects without rushing them to the majors.
But what does this mean for the rest of the offseason? The Yankees aren't done spending, not with Robinson Cano still unsigned, the need for another outfielder, a potential hole at third base, and a starting rotation that needs shoring up. Even with a new $17 million-a-year contract on the books, the Yankees will still have about $60 million to spend after they sign their arbitration-eligible players. Cano will require at least $20-25 million per year, although by showing him that they aren't waiting, the Yankees could have taken the necessary step to drive that figure down towards $20 million and away from the ridiculous $30 million a year he is still demanding.
Signing Cano would leave the Yankees only $35-40 million to use toward Carlos Beltran, Masahiro Tanaka, and Shin-Soo Choo, which means they could probably only sign one of them and still have enough left over to flesh out the bullpen, add some more (cheap) starting pitching, and stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
The fact remains that this McCann signing does not really limit their options going forward in the offseason. They still have plenty of money (more, if they'll just abandon Plan 189), and, if this signing shows anything, the Yankees are willing to spend.
With Alex Rodriguez's status uncertain, and the looming question of whether Derek Jeter will be a productive hitter in 2014, they needed to add a bat, as well as add a catcher. They got both with McCann. His injury issues the last two seasons are a bit troubling, but there just simply aren't many catchers of McCann's caliber that will be available any time soon. And punting on the position, as they did in 2013, is simply not an option.
It was a signing that had to be made, and they've still got money to spend to make sure 2014 isn't a repeat of last season. Now if only they can re-sign Cano.