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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yankees sign free agent catcher Brian McCann pending physical

11/23/13, ""Intense'' is an accurate description of the Yankees' pursuit of McCann, who made a clandestine visit to the Bronx earlier in the week.

When the offseason began, he quickly emerged as one of the club's top priorities (along with retaining Cano and acquiring Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka, if he's posted).

The lefthanded-hitting McCann can hit for power -- his swing is "perfect" for Yankee Stadium's short rightfield porch, one American League talent evaluator said -- and also is known as an outstanding clubhouse presence who is deft with a pitching staff.

"He handled their young pitching staff really well," one Yankees insider said of McCann's work with the Braves. "I like his makeup, the way he carries himself."

McCann, who turns 30 in February, hit .256 with a .336 on-base percentage, 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 102 games last season. Since 2006, his first full year in the majors, McCann has averaged 21 homers and 80 RBIs, winning five Silver Slugger awards at catcher, including four straight times from 2008-2011.

A potential red flag is the series of injuries -- including shoulder surgery in October 2012 to repair a torn labrum -- that have limited McCann to 102 and 121 games the last two years.

"Doesn't throw like he used to," said one NL scout, who nonetheless gave a strong endorsement of the catcher."...

"Brian McCann, Yankees agree to five-year, $85M deal," Erik Boland, Newsday

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11/23/13, "Brian McCann, Yankees agree to deal, reports say," Newsday, C. Derespina

"The Yankees reached a deal to sign free agent catcher Brian McCann pending a physical, according to multiple reports.

Ken Rosenthal reports the deal is for five years, $85 million with a sixth year vesting option that could push the total value to $100 million.

McCann, 29, is a career .277 hitter with a .350 on-base percentage and .823 on-base plus slugging percentage. He's hit at least 20 home runs in seven of the last eight seasons. He's spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves.

The Yankees got precious little production at catcher last season, using Chris Stewart -- a career backup who hit .211 with four home runs -- as their primary starter. Francisco Cervelli (.269, 3 HR), who was injured just a month into the season and then was suspended as part of the Biogenesis investigation, and Austin Romine (.207, 1 HR) also saw time behind the plate.

MLB catchers averaged a .698 OPS in 2013, but Yankees backstops produced just a .587 OPS, 26th in the majors.

McCann hit .230 with a .300 OBP during an injury-plagued 2012 for the Braves, but rebounded last season for a .796 OPS.

The Yankees have publicly stated an attempt to lower their payroll beneath the $189 million luxury tax threshold, a number that would produce big savings for the team. But even after losing Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte to retirement and possibly losing free agents such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Curtis Granderson, the payroll figure is complicated by Alex Rodriguez's ongoing saga with Major League Baseball, as he fights a 211-game bam for alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs as part of the Biogenesis case.

A McCann signing complicates the future of Yankees catching prospects Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy and Romine, who could now be used as trade bait as the Yankees look to fill other holes."

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