Gwinnett Braves’ manager Randy Ready, right, talks with Brian McCann’s rehab assignment in Gwinnett during a game earlier this season at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. (Photo: Karl L. Moore/Gwinnett Braves)
Brian McCann will be introduced in Yankees pinstripes in New York on Thursday, a sight that will probably be hard to take for many Atlanta Braves fans.
The Yankees finally officially announced the signing of the free agent catcher on Tuesday and set up the introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium.
McCann, a Duluth graduate and Suwanee resident, agreed to the five-year, $85 million deal with a vesting option for a sixth season the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but his required physical was delayed because of the holiday week.
The left-handed hitter was a second-round pick of his hometown Braves in 2002 and made the National League all-star team seven times while winning the NL Silver Slugger award five times.
McCann, who turns 30 before next season, leads all major league catchers in home runs since his 2005 debut and should benefit from the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, as well as the opportunity to at times be the designated hitter in the American League.
The Yankees missed the postseason last year and are expected to be busy in the free agent market while keeping the re-signing of second baseman Robinson Cano as a priority.
“In Brian McCann, we feel we have made a significant improvement to a key position, while adding a high-character presence to our clubhouse,” Yankees managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Our work this offseason has just begun, but we feel this is an important step towards what will be an exciting and rewarding 2014 season for our fans.”
McCann’s average yearly salary of $17 million is the highest ever given a catcher in free agency and the deal will be worth more than $100 million if the option is picked up.
World Series champion Boston and Texas also coveted McCann, driving up his bargaining position. That put the Braves out of the running.
The Braves did make a qualifying offer of $14.1 million to McCann for 2014 and his signing with the Yankees will net them a first-round draft choice as compensation.
McCann made $12 million last season in the option year of a long-term deal with the Braves and bounced back well from shoulder surgery until slumping late and then going hitless in the NL Division Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
McCann made the All-Star Game despite not playing until early May and finished with 20 homers and 57 RBIs to go with a .256 average in 102 games.
McCann career average with the Braves was .277 and he had 176 homers and 661 RBIs in 1,105 games. He had an on-base percentage of .350 and a slugging mark of .473.