Brian McCann: The next Yankees catcher?
By Joe Ferry
With Russell Martin becoming a free agent, the Yankees now have to look at all the possible options at catcher for next season. If the Yankees can’t find a better option to replace Martin I’m sure they’ll bring him back. Martin is an excellent defensive catcher and towards the end of the regular season he hit very well. His OPS rose from .618 in August to .874 in September. Which could indicate that he’s in for a better year in 2013. Well, maybe, but what possible options are there for the Yankees to explore?Brian McCann
dreaming of launching a home run at Yankee Stadium. (Image: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE)
Well, for one there’s the possibility of making Atlanta Braves’ catcher Brian McCann the Yankees next half of the battery. As of now* McCann is awaiting the Braves decision on a $12 million team option for the 2013 season. The Braves are wary of exercising the option due to McCann’s poor 2012 season and his recent shoulder issues. There’s been rumors of the Braves possibly picking up the option just to trade McCann, but that seems risky if the Braves aren’t able to deal him before the season. What team wants to risk giving up prospects for potentially damaged goods? Not many. Before the injuries, this would have been an easy decision for the Braves. With Joe Mauer‘s injury troubles, McCann was next in line for the title of the MLB’s top catcher. McCann has shown the ability to hit for power which are validated by his 5 Silver Slugger awards and a career ISO of .196. Which is good for a catcher. His .279 AVG/.351 OBP/.475 SLG/.354 wOBA/116 wRC+ career line would have been good enough for the Braves to pick up his option and eventually extend him.
* Editor’s Note: McCann’s option has been exercised by Atlanta. Their plans moving forward (will they look to trade him?) remain unclear.
Then injuries hit McCann and he had one of his worst seasons of his career. His .230 AVG/.300 OBP/.399 SLG/.300 wOBA/86 wRC+ line in 2012 isn’t the real McCann. Now McCann is looked at with a ton of question marks come the 2013 season.
Buster Olney points out in his ESPN Insider column what McCann’s injury means for him in 2013. McCann will undergo a rehab schedule that might not have him ready for opening day. There are also multiple questions that go with the injury. Like, will his throwing motion and swing be affected? These questions are also unanswerable at the moment. Only time will answer these questions for us.
I do believe McCann is a good fit for the Yankees if his rehab goes well. He’s a power hitting left handed hitter who could hit even more home runs over the short porch in Yankee Stadium than Atlanta’s deep dimensions at Turner Field. Even in a down year McCann managed to hit 20 home runs. I believe he could raise his total by 10-12 home runs in New York.
McCann and Martin are at similar points in their career. McCann has eclipsed 1,000 games while Martin is under a season away from that mark with 925 games in his career. Meaning both have similar wear and tear at the position. These two played the majority of their games at catcher because they both have spent time in the National League. There are no off days where one can be the designated hitter there. Even in New York Martin hasn’t had the luxury to do that due to the aging veterans on the roster. Even if it was possible to insert Martin as the DH I doubt Girardi would do it. His bat isn’t that good. Yet McCann would be a proper DH for the Yankees if they had the room to make the move.
McCann has easily been the better of the two over their careers. The numbers don’t lie. McCann is a better hitter as shown by his superior wOBA of .354 in comparison to Martin’s .333 wOBA. As well as McCann’s wRC+ of 116 to Martin’s 102 wRC+. Defensively, it’s a tough call. Martin specializes in defense, but McCann does play very well behind the plate. I’ll admit I don’t watch many of McCann’s games so I’m basing this off of talk around the league. I’ll call it a wash defensively just for that reason alone. The point is, hitting is more concrete than defense and most of the time it’s more valuable. Making McCann the better player over their career.
At this point though, the better player isn’t the reason of the possible acquisition. It’s who will be able to be a productive part of the team. McCann’s injury issues are certainly something to be afraid of as a general manager. While as of now Martin has very little injury concerns at all. The difference between the two offensively is a matter of consistency. McCann is a more consistent hitter while Martin goes on hot and cold streaks over the season. The risk of the move doesn’t equal the possible success it might bring to the team. So while seeing McCann swinging for the short porch is enticing, it just doesn’t make sense for the risk.
Well, that is unless the Yankees could sign both.