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Numbers Game: Yankees bring in McCann

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Scott Cullen
11/24/2013 12:01:20 AM
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The New York Yankees addressed a position of glaring need by signing the top free agent catcher.

Numbers Game breaks down the Yankees' addition of Brian McCann.

The Yankees Get: C Brian McCann.

McCann, 29, was the top free agent catcher on the market and the Yankees had a gaping hole at the position -- their catchers hitting a Major-League-low 8 home runs with a .587 OPS last season -- so this seems like a suitable fit.

McCann has hit at least 20 home runs in seven of the last eight seasons and, since 2006, his 171 home runs leads all catchers. His fWAR of 28.9 since 2006 ranks second among catchers, behind only Joe Mauer.

More recently, however, there have been signs of decline, as might be expected since McCann has logged more than 1,000 games behind the plate. For example, McCann's 4.5 fWAR over the last two seasons ranks 16th at the position.

Defensively, McCann is below average, with a negative Defensive Runs Saved in each of the last five seasons and a below-average caught stealing percentage in every season of his career save for 2010, when he threw out a career-best 30% of attempted base-stealers. Shoulder woes in recent seasons don't figure to make those numbers any better in the future.

A left-handed power hitter, McCann figures to benefit from the short right field fence Yankee Stadium, though he's just 1-for-12 in three career games in the Bronx since the Yankees moved into their new home. He does have a .303 batting average and .902 OPS, with 24 home runs, in 114 career inter-league games, so the switch to the American League shouldn't cause major problems.

With McCann leaving, the Atlanta Braves can turn their catching duties over to Evan Gattis, a free-swinging power hitter who forced his way into the lineup with a strong rookie season in 2013.

McCann has signed a five-year, $85-millon contract, with a $15-million vesting option for a sixth season. It's significant money, to be sure, but the question will be how well McCann ages.

While some decline is to be expected in a deal that will take him through age 34, if McCann is capable of playing 120 games and slugging 20 homers a season, then that will count as a major upgrade behind the plate for the Yankees; the kind of free agent signing that will improve their chances of returning to the postseason. Though the Yankees make noise about getting under Major League Baseball's $189-million lusxury tax limit for 2014, for a team with virtually unlimited resources, like the Yankees, getting to the playoffs really ought to be the bottom line.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Brian McCann (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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