Brian McCann‘s contract with the Atlanta Braves expires at the end of the 2013 season. Reports are he will command a 5-year contract in the neighborhood of $15-18 million per season on the open market.
Conventional wisdom appears to be that the Braves won’t re-sign the 29-year old McCann. The reason most “experts” give is that McCann won’t be able to catch many games the last couple years of his contract due to mileage on his body. They say he would be better suited to the American League, where the DH would reduce wear and tear on McCann and extend his career.
The experts also say that the emergence of Evan Gattis as a potent bat and solid defensive catcher has appeared to seal McCann’s exit.
McCann struggled in 2012 due to a right shoulder problem and at that point in time it was easy to imagine McCann in another uniform. But the off-season surgery performed on his shoulder has energized the Duluth High School (GA) product. McCann is driving the ball like he did in his best years and throwing out runners trying to steal at the highest percentage of his career.
Is there a way that the Braves can re-sign McCann and not have to worry about the last couple years of a 5-year contract?
Here’s my solution: alternate McCann and Gattis at catcher and in left field as needed. While not as convenient as the DH, left field would give McCann the chance to rest his body and extend his career. Gattis won’t win any gold glove awards with his play in left field, but he is more than serviceable. There’s no reason a good athlete like McCann, with some work, wouldn’t be able to play left field just as well.
While neither Gattis, nor McCann, will ever be accused of having good speed, they are both very sure-handed. They will catch the ball when they get there. Needless to say, they both having strong throwing arms.
Normally I wouldn’t think an option like this viable. But Gattis and McCann are both special players who bring a combination of toughness, leadership and clutch hitting that is hard to find. I want both McCann and Gattis in the Braves line-up for years to come. Do you?