Exploring the Market for Yankees Catcher Brian McCann This Winter


It seems likely that the New York Yankees will at least listen on former starting catcher Brian McCann this winter. Let’s take a look at which rival clubs may have interest.

Let me start by saying that I think the New York Yankees would be better off by keeping catcher Brian McCann this winter. Quality starting catchers are extremely valuable and having two seems like a major benefit for the club, rather than a problem that needs to be solved.

Rotating McCann and Gary Sanchez between catcher and DH throughout the year would hopefully ensure that both men remain healthier and more productive than they would otherwise.

The drawback of this arrangement is it would require the team to carry a third catcher, which reduces roster flexibility, but I would argue that the benefits outweigh this inconvenience, especially if the team is willing to use its final bench spot as a revolving door, similar to how the team has used the Scranton Shuttle to rotate in fresh bullpen arms.

However, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required) it is “far more likely” that the Yankees take advantage of the thin catching market, especially in the wake of the Wilson Ramos injury, and shop McCann this winter.

Even in a down year, McCann was quietly one of the American League’s best catchers in 2016. He hit .242/.335/.413 (99 OPS+) in 492 plate appearances while slugging 20 home runs for the ninth straight season. Catcher defense is difficult to quantify, but he’s still regarded as at least an average all-around backstop. He’s also incredibly durable, with 11 straight seasons with at least 90 games behind the dish.

Before the August 1st trade deadline, McCann drew interest from both the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves. While the Rangers eventually acquired Jonathan Lucroy, talks with the Braves went all the way up until the last few hours that Monday. A deal never got done, but reports at the time indicated that the teams agreed to revisit the discussions in the offseason.

Olney lists the Braves, Astros, Rockies, Mariners, Angels, and Nationals as teams that could be a fit for McCann this winter. It’s worth remembering that Mac has a full no-trade clause and has been very vocal recently about his desire to stay in New York, citing the bright future he believes this club has.

One way of reading that is that McCann believes his best chance of winning a championship is in New York. The recent history of the Braves, Rockies, Mariners, and Angels especially is pretty rough, so it may be difficult to convince McCann to waive his NTC to go to any of those clubs. At least Atlanta is where he makes his offseason home and where he had his best professional seasons, so that could have appeal.

Next: What We Know About the Yankees Offseason Strategy

So what could the Yankees get in return for McCann? Probably either salary relief or a decent young starter (which the team will again be desperately seeking this winter), but not both. If the talks with Atlanta are any indication, New York will need to pay down Mac’s $17 million annual salary if they want a strong return.