Showing posts with label Brian McCann. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brian McCann. Show all posts

Friday, November 18, 2016

New York Yankees trade catcher Brian McCann to Houston Astros for two prospects

Brian McCann
Cross Brian McCann off your list of available catchers.

The New York Yankees made the first notable trade of the offseason Thursday, sending the veteran to the Houston Astros in exchange for pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.

McCann, who will be 33 when the 2017 season starts, has two years and $34 million remaining on his contract. The Yankees will send the Astros $11 million -- or $5.5 million a season -- to absorb some of that cost.

The left-handed hitter provided 20 home runs or more in each of his three seasons with the Yankees, but his slash line was a mediocre .235/.313/.418 over that same span. He was, essentially, a league-average hitter, and he was losing playing time in New York to 23-year-old Gary Sanchez, who took the American League by storm with 20 home runs in just 229 plate appearances after an early-August promotion.

Sanchez finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He is both the present and the future behind the plate for the Yankees. McCann saw the writing on the wall and agreed to waive his no-trade protection to join the Astros.

From Houston's perspective, the Astros need a catcher because they are likely to lose defensive-minded Jason Castro in free agency. Despite McCann's declining numbers, he still represents a clear offensive upgrade over Castro, who hit .210 with a .684 OPS in 2016.

Houston parts with two live arms in Abreu, 21, and Guzman, 20. Abreu was ranked as the Astros' No. 7 prospect, and Guzman has at times topped 100 mph with his fastball. The Yankees are continuing a trend they started in the middle of last season, trading high-profile, high-priced veterans for prospects. McCann joins Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran on a list of notable players to be dealt out of the Bronx over the past few months.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Astros are not done. Apparently, Houston is on the verge of signing free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick to a four-year deal worth $52 million.

The Astros had a disappointing 2016 in which they finished 84-78, in third place in the AL West. They came into the year with much higher expectations after winning the AL wild card game in 2015 and pushing the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals to five games in the ALDS. Clearly, they are adding veterans to try to push their way back into the postseason next year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Clayton Kershaw expected to make more than entire Atlanta pitching staff

I pulled this nugget out of the Jan. 27 edition of Sports Illustrated:

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will make an average of $30.7 million annually over the life of the seven-year contract he just signed.

By way of comparison, the Atlanta Braves' 12-man pitching staff is expected to make $27 million combined in 2014.

I know you've probably heard or read statistics like that before. People are quite fond of pointing out that Alex Rodriguez makes more than the entire Houston Astros' roster, for example.

But here's the thing: The Astros aren't even trying to win right now. They stink. They had the worst record in the league last year at  51-111. I tend to dismiss the Astros as a Triple-A team, so of course they are making Triple-A salaries.

The Braves, in contrast, won the NL East with 96 wins in 2013. Not only that, they led all of baseball with a 3.18 team ERA. Atlanta has a very good pitching staff that happens to be inexpensive as well.

It's hard to say Kershaw doesn't deserve his money. He's won two of the last three Cy Young Awards in the National League. He's the best left-handed starter in baseball.

But, the Braves example shows you don't necessarily have to throw around millions upon millions of dollars to build a successful pitching staff, or a successful team. Keep that in mind when people try to tell you the New York Yankees are a lock for the 2014 World Series after they spent almost half a billion dollars this offseason on free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees have won the offseason for sure, but there is no special prize handed to the team that spends the most money or collects the most big-name players.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka agrees to seven-year deal with Yankees

The team that needed Masahiro Tanaka the most was the team that signed him: the New York Yankees.

On Wednesday, the Yankees and Tanaka agreed on a seven-year, $155 million contract. The deal contains an opt-out clause after the fourth year. The Yankees also must pay Tanaka's Japanese team, the Rakuten Eagles, a $20 million posting fee.

I'm sure the Yankees have more than enough money to cover that, and I think their desperation to sign a potential No. 1 starter sent them to the front of the line in the Tanaka sweepstakes.

New York had already spent $283 million this offseason to bring in free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. However, there was no way the Yankees were going to overtake the Boston Red Sox in the AL East with a declining C.C. Sabathia and 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda heading up their starting rotation. The Yankees' presumed No. 3 starter, Ivan Nova, has shown flashes been has never been both consistent and healthy for a full season. New York had to sign an ace-quality pitcher.

With Tanaka in the mix, each of those other three pitchers gets moved down a peg, and the Yankees have a better chance to win in one of baseball's toughest division. Of course, the key to the whole deal is Tanaka living up to the hype. Sure, he went 24-0 in Japan last year, but how will that translate to the United States? We shall see.

Both the Cubs and the White Sox were listed as finalists in the Tanaka race. Obviously, both teams came up short. I don't think there will be much shock on the South Side. I can't recall the White Sox ever giving a pitcher more than a five-year contract. I'd be surprised if the Sox would have been willing to give Tanaka six years, let alone the seven the Yankees gave him. Also, the Sox are not expected to contend in 2014, and perhaps that was a factor in Tanaka's decision.

The rebuilding Cubs also were in no position to offer Tanaka the chance to play for an immediate winner. I'm pretty sure the North Siders would have been willing to ante up for six or seven years, but it's questionable whether they would have been able to match or exceed the Yankees' offer. But even if they did, if you're Tanaka, who are you picking? The Yankees or the Cubs? I'd pick New York and go play for a winner.

David Kaplan tweeted today that the Cubs were "runner up" in the Tanaka bidding. If true, it's a little surprising the Cubs were ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it really doesn't matter. You know what else the Cubs were runners-up in? The NLCS in 1984 and again in 2003. There is no prize for finishing second.

As far as Tanaka goes, the Cubs are in the same boat with the Sox, the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. They made their pitch and they lost out to the Yankees. End of story. For some, it might be disappointing, but it's not even slightly surprising.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Free agent shocker: Robinson Cano snubs Yankees, agrees to terms with Mariners

Pat yourself on the back if you thought the Seattle Mariners would be the team to land the most sought-after free agent this offseason.

I didn't see this one coming: Robinson Cano has snubbed the New York Yankees and agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. The contract reportedly includes a full no-trade clause.

As expected, the Yankees have been on a spending spree after missing the playoffs in 2013. They signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract. They also gave center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million over seven years. I just assumed they would open up the pocketbook and retain Cano, too.

They were denied because the Mariners, of all teams, blew them out of the water by making Cano an offer he couldn't refuse. The Yankees reportedly did not want to invest more than $175 million on Cano. If that's the case, then Seattle beat New York's best offer by $65 million.

I don't know that this signing makes the Mariners immediate contenders in the AL West, but it surely weakens the Yankees' quest to get back in the mix in the AL East. Not matter how you spin it, they aren't as good without their cornerstone second baseman and No. 3 hitter.

I never thought Cano would play in a smaller city. When he hired Jay Z at his agent, I assumed it was because he wanted more opportunities to market himself, perhaps even in a realm outside of baseball. Typically, a player wants to be in New York or Los Angeles to pursue those kinds of possibilities.

Instead, Cano is going to Seattle. I'm stunned.

Curtis Granderson signs with Mets

Free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson and the New York Mets have agreed to a four-year deal worth $60 million, reports say.

Earlier this offseason, there were rumors that the White Sox were interested in Granderson. For those years and those dollars, I'm glad the South Siders took a pass -- if indeed they were interested.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brian McCann near deal with Yankees; Jhonny Peralta to Cardinals

The first major free-agent domino has fallen as reports indicate veteran catcher Brian McCann will sign a five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Yankees.

That's a high price to pay, but the Yankees were willing to ante up-- especially since Chris Stewart and Austin Romine were their catchers last season. McCann's numbers have remained consistent throughout his career with the Atlanta Braves. He has hit 20 home runs or more in six consecutive seasons, and seven out of the last eight seasons.

Being a left-handed hitter, he should be able to duplicate -- if not slighty improve -- those numbers at Yankee Stadium, which has a short porch in right field.

The Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels were among the other teams reportedly interested in McCann. The questions with the Yankees remain: Will they sign second baseman Robinson Cano? And can they do it without paying a king's ransom in luxury tax? 

Cardinals agree to terms with Peralta

Maybe I spoke too soon Saturday when I said all those nice things about the Cardinals. Do they really think putting Jhonny Peralta at shortstop makes them better?

Apparently so, because reports say Peralta is going to sign a four-year deal with St. Louis.

The Cardinals should have gone defense first with that position. Peralta can hit, but he can't field. St. Louis has no shortage of hitting. Maybe the Cardinals know free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran is leaving (to Detroit?), so they feel the need to replace his offense.

I'd like the signing a little better if they were planning to put Peralta at third base. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another unwritten rules violation, Carlos Gomez edition

Atlanta Braves left-hander Paul Maholm drilled Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in the leg with an 88 mph fastball on June 23. Gomez took exception to it, believing it was intentional, and he hasn't forgotten about it.

So, Gomez went to the plate looking for revenge when the two men competed against each other again Wednesday night. There's no question Gomez was looking to take Maholm deep. He took a mighty cut and missed on the first pitch, almost falling down in the process. On the second pitch, he connected, sending one deep into the seats in left-center field.

Give Gomez credit for that. If you believe a pitcher has hit you intentionally, one of the best ways to deal with that is to hit a home run next time you face him. Perfectly acceptable. What happened after Gomez made contact wasn't so acceptable, as he stood there and admired his handiwork, then stared at Maholm and flipped the bat behind him before rounding the bases.

On his way around the bases, Gomez jawed with Maholm, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Brian McCann. Gomez actually never touched home plate, because McCann confronted him about 20 feet up the third-base line. The two men exchanged more heated words, and the benches emptied. You can watch video of the incident here

It's no secret I've never liked Gomez. I've disliked him since his days with the Minnesota Twins. He's a hot dog and a loose cannon. His actions on the field often cross the line into obnoxious territory, and this incident is just the latest example. He got tossed out of the game, and rightfully so. He's an idiot.

However, I can't put 100 percent of the blame on Gomez for this one. There are certain teams around baseball that fancy themselves as gatekeepers of the unwritten rules of the game. Atlanta is starting to become one of those teams. Not even a month ago, the Braves were involved in a similar incident when Miami Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez, a 21-year-old kid, got a little too excited about hitting his first major league home run. 

Is it really necessary to have an altercation when someone stands and admires a home run for a little too long? Have our feelings gotten that sensitive? For me, the Braves are living in a glass house. One of their own players, Justin Upton, has been known to pose after hitting a home run. Most teams probably have a guy or two who is guilty of hot-dogging it after taking the opposing pitcher deep. I know a lot of people don't like to see that stuff, but it's pretty common in today's game.

I can agree that Gomez was over the line with his antics. But I'll be honest, I don't know exactly where that line is. At one point does a home run pose become offensive to the other team? I'm not sure. Maybe someone should take these unwritten rules I hear about all the time and write 'em down so we all understand what is acceptable and what is not.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tyler Flowers' disastrous 2013 is thankfully over

It's no secret I was never on board with the White Sox decision to make Tyler Flowers their starting catcher.

Yes, I wanted to keep A.J. Pierzynski for another year or two, and it wasn't because of 2005 nostalgia. It was because Pierzynski is still a far superior player to Flowers, even at his advancing age, and I didn't think it took a brain surgeon to figure that out.

I understood the reasons the Sox cut the cord with Pierzynski. He's a 36-year-old catcher. He wasn't going to duplicate the 27-homer season he had in 2012, and there was talk that he wasn't on the same page with manager Robin Ventura and the coaching staff last season.

That said, if you are going to jettison a productive player, you better have a replacement lined up. And that somebody needs to be better than Tyler Flowers. I knew going into the season Flowers was incapable of being anything more than a backup at the big-league level. He has tantalizing power, but that's his only real plus. He has holes in his swing like Swiss cheese, strikes out way too much and isn't as good defensively as Sox brass claims he is. I figured given a whole season, Flowers might bat .220. Actually, he batted .195 in 84 games this year before going on the disabled list this week to undergo right shoulder surgery.

Reports indicate Flowers first tweaked the shoulder about a year ago. The pain intensified before spring training, and he found out a couple months ago he would need the surgery.

So, the Sox knew before spring training Flowers wasn't healthy, yet they were willing to start the season with him and career minor-leaguer Hector Gimenez as their two big-league catchers. Given what we know now, it's even less of a surprise that the catching position has been a complete disaster for the 2013 White Sox. An injured Tyler Flowers was considered the best option in the organization. That's brutal.

Meanwhile, Pierzynski (.280 avg., 16 HR, 58 RBIs) continues to display competence as the starting catcher on a Texas Rangers ballclub that is tied for first place in the AL West entering Tuesday's action. Thud.

The Sox are left to hope and pray rookie Josh Phegley shows them something the last month of the season. Since an electric first week that included three home runs, Phegley has slumped to a .214 average. His defense has been poor. He dropped a routine pop up Monday against the Yankees, and I've been unimpressed with his receiving ability. Too many wild pitches and not enough pitches being blocked. Phegley will need to hit a lot to overcome his defensive shortcomings. While I'm more optimistic about his offensive abilities than I was about Flowers, the Sox need to see more before they can comfortably go into 2014 thinking Phegley is their catcher.

No matter what, the Sox would be smart to cut their losses with Flowers. He's damaged goods now, and I wouldn't want him in even a backup role. If they want to give Phegley a full-time shot, fine, but sign a serviceable veteran this offseason just in case Phegley fails as well.

I know the list of potential free agent catchers isn't exciting (except for Brian McCann, who is likely out of the Sox price range), but think about it: Anybody who can hit .230 and catch the ball is an upgrade behind the plate over what the Sox have right now. The standard for improvement at that position is not high.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Random thought: Will the Braves trade Brian McCann?

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann has missed the first month of the season while rehabbing a torn labrum in his right shoulder. But, the six-time All-Star is expected to return to the Atlanta lineup within the next week.

I noted McCann went 2-for-4 with a home run and a single for Class AAA Gwinnett Friday night. In six rehab games between Gwinnett and Class A Rome, McCann is batting .364 with four home runs, nine RBIs and five runs scored. Sounds to me like he's ready.

But here's the problem for the Braves: Rookie catcher Evan Gattis has played well in McCann's absence, belting seven home runs and winning National League Rookie of the Month honors in April.

McCann isn't coming back to the majors to sit on the bench, so what will the Braves do with Gattis? From everything I've read, they intend to use him as a bench bat, maybe giving him some starts in the outfield or at first base. Makes sense. You don't want to demote a guy who has been a productive player for you.

But here's my question: Has Gattis done enough to make the Braves believe he is their catcher of the future? And, if so, will they trade McCann, who is in the last year of a seven-year contract that will pay him $12 million this season?

Or, do they look at Gattis as nothing more than a former 23rd-round draft pick on a career hot streak? Will they look to resign McCann, who is hardly old? He's 29, but he is coming off his worst season in 2012 and a fairly significant injury.

If I were the Braves, I don't think I'd give McCann the $12 to $15 million per year he'll likely command in free agency. That's too much money in my mind for a catcher. That said, if I were the Braves, I would not trade McCann. I'd hang on to him, play for this year and hope he's healthy enough to be a critical piece in a drive toward an NL East championship. If he walks at the end of the year, so be it.

But what if they do decide to deal McCann? Which teams need a catcher?

Well, start with the Yankees, who have half their team on the disabled list and have Francisco Cervelli getting the majority of the starts behind the plate. Anytime a left-hander power hitter becomes available, you have to believe New York will be in the hunt.

Maybe Detroit? Doesn't it seem like Alex Avila always breaks down by the end of the year? Never underestimate Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. The octogenarian wants a World Series title before he dies and will spend any amount of money to get it.

I think Washington could use an upgrade behind the plate, but of course, there won't be any trades between the Nationals and the Braves. Those two teams will fight for the NL East lead all year.

Then, of course, there's the White Sox. I still don't understand why the Sox believe in Tyler Flowers. Through 28 games, Flowers is exactly who I thought he would be. He's hitting .186 with four home runs and 26 strikeouts in 70 ABs. About once a week, he hits a home run, and that's his sole contribution to the offense.

Can you tell I'm tired of the Flowers experiment? First week of May and I'm already looking around to see if there are any real catchers who might be available in a trade.