On the verge of a fire sale, the New York Yankees could find some attractive offers regarding their starting catcher, Brian McCann.
Before we get into the speculation, let it be understood that if a trade involving the feisty backstop were to happen, New York would unquestionably have to eat a decent amount of McCann’s salary to get a deal done.
From now until his contract expires at the end of 2018, the 32-year old will make $17-million a year with a team option worth $15-million for the 2019 season.
Eating that much cash is clearly something general manager Brian Cashman wants to avoid doing but as his team transitions from an older and rundown roster into a younger team – top catching prospect Gary Sanchez is on the rise – with some fire, the organization might have to make a tough decision.
In addition to the difficulty of moving that big of a salary, McCann owns a full no-trade clause on his contract which means he could veto any move the Yankees may make involving him.
Through 82 games playing here in 2016, McCann is tied for the second-most home runs by a Major League catcher, is one of just four AL catchers with at least 300 plate appearances and among that group he has walked the most.
Additionally, his .235 batting average is the highest it has ever been in his three-year Yankees’ career while owning the most home runs in 82 games during his tenure in the Bronx.
He has more to offer than his bat, however, as he has maintained a .992 fielding percentage in 1357 career games behind home plate. This year, his range factor per nine innings is the highest it’s been at any point during his 12-year career.
So who would go after him? Surely a team in dire need of a starting catcher could use him but would they agree to take on all that cash? Here are a few teams that could use McCann as their starting backstop.
First, as you may know, are the Atlanta Braves.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that McCann’s former team expressed interest in a reunion but that was all depending on whether or not New York was willing to eat half of his $17-million yearly earnings.
But beyond the money, the Braves want to give up fewer prospects than New York wants in return for the native of Athens, Georgia. As of Saturday, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, Yankees’ executives did not examine the trade as urgent or even necessary.
Also, the rebuilding Braves don’t necessarily need their former second-round draft pick back. Yet again, they didn’t need 31-year old Matt Kemp either but they brought him in for some strange reason.
Perhaps they want him to be a stadium-filler as the organization moves to SunTrust Park next season. Other than that, a catcher in his 30’s may not be very useful for a team in the midst of a transition period.
A team in the complete opposite of a transition period, are the New York Mets.
Through 110 games, the Mets have received an anemic amount of production from the catcher’s position. In fact, McCann outperforms them in almost every offensive category.
Catchers that have geared up for the Mets this season – consisting of Travis d’Arnaud, Rene Rivera, and Kevin Plawecki – own a total slash line of .222/.298/.318 with a total OPS of .616. In comparison, McCann owns a .235/.334/.430 line with an OPS of .764.
Additionally, McCann’s has eight more home runs despite playing in 28 fewer games compared to Mets’ catchers. A return to the NL East to assist a team that is in “win-now” mode could be something special to watch.
Like their division rivals, however, it’s highly unlikely they’ll agree to deal youngster that Cashman wants and eat up the enormous contract.
The Cleveland Indians could also use McCann in their clubhouse during their chase for a World Series title. They were just vetoed by Jonathan Lucroy in a trade and are still in dire need of an enhanced bat at the catcher’s position.
Throw in his ability to call a magnificent game and the fact that he has caught newest member of the Indians, Andrew Miller, for the last two seasons.
The problem of an added deal with Cleveland will come back to Miller, however, as New York previously collected a huge chunk out of their farm system after dealing the lefty closer. With that considered, finding an agreeable deal will be that much more difficult.
It comes down to, again, the Yankees realizing what’s important to the well-being of the franchise. They aren’t spending any significant payroll until the epic free agent class of 2019 rises so why not eat half of $17-million?
They also don’t even have to collect top notch prospects, too. Sure they want them, but four of the top eight Yankees’ prospects have been acquired in the past two months so the focus should now shift towards shaving the monstrous contracts.
So there’s the speculation, now here’s the reality of it. McCann will probably remain a Bronx Bomber through this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. The price has to be more than right, the money has to be eaten, and he has a full no-trade clause.
Just because he won’t however, doesn’t mean that his departure could help the Yankees reach their goal of building their next championship sooner than later.