Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's the Catch?

McCann brings a big bat to New York
Well, that didn't take long.  It's not even Thanksgiving and the Yankees have made the first big splash in the free agent market, reportedly signing Braves' catcher Brian McCann to a 5-year, $85 million contract.  Considering that everyone figured the Yankees would sign McCann on the heels of their first missed post-season since 2008, the deal doesn't come as a surprise.  But the terms of the deal might.

The Yankees are no strangers to bidding against themselves and offering more money to free agents than is probably warranted.  (See Sabathia, CC; Burnett, A.J.; and Teixeira, Mark, circa 2008)  While other teams were supposedly interested in McCann, the Yankees didn't wait around to find out.  And sensing an opportunity for a humongous payday, McCann didn't hesitate, either.

The issue here isn't whether Brian McCann is a good-hitting catcher: he is.  (He's averaged 27 homers and 97 RBI's over his 9-year career with Atlanta.)  Nor is whether McCann is a light-years' improvement over last season's miserable production from behind the plate.  The question, as it usually is with the Yankees, is whether McCann, at age 30, is worth an investment of $17 million a season for the next five years. 

Adding McCann also means that one of the Yankees' best-rated prospects, Gary Sanchez, suddenly has a roadblock set up for him in the Bronx.  Sure, it's possible that by the time Sanchez is major-league ready that McCann will already be on the move from behind the plate to either first base or DH.  Unfortunately, McCann doesn't hit like an $85 million DH; his appeal is that he's a good-hitting catcher.  It just looks like another example of the Yankees throwing money at a short-term problem yet possibly making life worse for the long haul.

If you put aside the contract and the impact this may have on the Yanks desire to get under that magical $189 million ceiling, it's a positive move.  The Yankees are a better team with Brian McCann at catcher for the next few years.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the Yankees, no move happens in a vacuum.  They better start working on that Cano deal.

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