For the first time in seemingly a long time, the Yankees made a big splash in the free-agent market Saturday night when they agreed to terms on a five-year, $85 million contract with All-Star catcher Brian McCann, the top free-agent catcher out there.
This move alone makes the Yankees a lot better moving forward, and with the all the questions coming into the winter about whether or not the Brian Cashman and company would spend the money to get back to postseason play after missing for the second time since 2008.
McCann is an immediate upgrade for the Yankees behind the plate, and he adds some much needed power in the lineup. Assuming the Yankees can re-sign Robinson Cano this winter, the lineup has a chance to be dangerous once again.
A left-handed hitter, McCann becomes a serious threat to pop at least 30-35 homeruns this season playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium.
He can become a strict pull-hitter, and will go absolutely bananas with the short porch in right field. McCann will be the power catcher in the lineup that the Yankees haven't had since Jorge Posada retired.
After missing some time early this past season, he still went on to hit 20 homeruns with a .796 OPS in 102 games. He's hit at least 20 homeruns in each of the last six seasons, and as I mentioned, playing in Yankee Stadium won't hurt that streak, as long as he can stay healthy.
Last season, the Yankees ranked dead last in the majors in homeruns from the catching positions with 8 from Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli getting the most reps behind the plate.
Clearly, McCann provides a dramatic upgrade not only with his glove, but with his bat, as we would all expect. Before McCann, the catcher position was one of the Yankees' biggest weaknesses, and now that they have McCann, it's one of their biggest strengths.
Also, McCann, being a lefty, would pair perfectly with Cervelli in the lineup since he hits very well against left-handed pitching -- in just under 200 career at-bats against lefties, Cervelli's line is .302/.402/.389. Not that the Yankees would have Cervelli face every single left-hander they face, but they could still mix him into the lineup occasionally when needed, providing Joe Girardi with some actual options when making his lineups.
This move automatically makes up for the Yankees letting Russell Martin walk last winter.
And about the money: for $85 million over five years -- there is also a vesting option for a sixth-year that would bring the total to $100 million -- his average salary will $17 million, making him the highest-paid catcher in the game now that Joe Mauer will be moving to first base in 2014.
Even after signing McCann, the Yankees still have more than enough money left over to re-sign Cano, and in a perfect world, win the posting for Masahiro Tanaka, and bring him to the Bronx, too.
Where some might see a concern with this deal is that fact that McCann will be 30-years-old when the season starts, and being a catcher is only going to speed up his aging process. With a deal that will likely keep him in New York until he's 36, McCann, obviously, isn't going to be the same player in fives years as he is now.
But at least having the option to DH now that he's playing in the American League, Girardi will be able to save McCann much more, while still keeping his power in the lineup.
By the time we get to the back-end of this five-year deal, Derek Jeter will likely be gone. Alfonso Soriano might not be here. And that would mean getting McCann to DH more often wouldn't be an issue.
Keep in mind, McCann is also open to playing first base, so Girardi would have another option for keeping him out from behind the plate.
I really see no reason to hate this deal, because when you look closely, the Yankees signed one of the top free-agents on the market, and they haven't done that in a few years. They still remain in the hunt for signing Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, but for now, they got the man they wanted, and it was finally someone that the fanbase wanted, too.
McCann makes the Yankees better. A lot better. In the lineup, behind the plate, and in the clubhouse. He's their first big acquisition of the winter, and it was a good one.
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