The New York Yankees were extremely wise in keeping a firm grasp on veteran catcher Brian McCann at the trade deadline.
While popular opinion suggested that Brian McCann’s value was better served elsewhere, the New York Yankees made the correct move in holding on to their backstop.
His departure would have certainly paved a direct path for Gary Sanchez, helping the youngster effectively assume starting catcher duties. However, the vacancy of the designated hitter role was far more vital.
Keeping McCann around for the long haul may be more imperative than anyone would have expected.
With the departure of Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez’s recently fortified acquaintanceship with the pine, the Yankee catcher can still preserve meaningful at-bats out of the DH spot when he is not behind the plate. After all, McCann’s 15 homers and 42 RBIs would bring a direct boost to that spot in the lineup.
Thus far, .246/.290/.437 is the combined slash possessed by Yankee designated hitters and, without a half-season of Beltran, it could be substantially worse.
Additionally, sliding McCann into a less taxing role allows for Sanchez to get his feet wet handling a big league staff. After seven years in the minors as a highly regarded defensive catcher, the big leagues will be a whole new ballgame.
Everything from framing to handling a running game, to limiting the damage in potentially detrimental innings will be worked out.
If the organization wants to groom its capable young stud into being a franchise catcher, the reps are needed. With that said, completely eliminating McCann from the catching depth chart — and landscape, for that matter — was not the call.
Sanchez will also need veteran guidance. He will reap the benefits from the word of mouth of those who have, “been there and done that.” Having manager Joe Girardi, a former established major league catcher, third base coach Tony Pena, who was admired for his work behind the plate during his playing days, and McCann, a comparatively formidable defensive catcher, as mentors will mean a great deal to the 23-year-old.
Furthermore, McCann will not only provide guidance to his eventual permanent successor. In the remaining two full years of his Yankee contract, he can give pointers and ultimately lead a newly shaped Yankee team. As players continue to come up and experience their first endeavors in the Bronx, he can instill that winning mentality.
Judging from his time in Atlanta and his nearly three years as a Yankee, he perfectly fits the winning profile. He is a fierce competitor in winning and losing efforts, which needs to be carried over to the next group of top prospects who can potentially formulate a dynasty.
Whether it be getting in an opposition’s head, showing evident emotion during success or failure, or simply giving his teammates an earful, he shows up to perform night in and night out.
Putting mentorship aside, McCann can still have an impact with his on-field contributions. At 32 years of age, he is by no means deteriorating just yet.
If the Yankees are playing in a game with large implications, there is no one else they would want putting down the signs or up at the plate in a huge spot.
So while the Yankees easily could have completely cleaned house, rolling over certain fragments of the roster to aid in the rebuilding process made their deadline even more successful.
If a guy with the stature of Brian McCann plays his part, the franchise will be set up for years to come.