Should Braves Re-Sign McCann?

Brian McCann - Atlanta Braves Catcher

The Braves need Brian McCann

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?

  • OscarG

    The problem with this is that lil guy named BJ Upton. When he comes back he’ll be back in cf which will his brother to lf with Heyward in right. I’d love to have them both too, but it just doesn’t look like it is in the cards…

  • Bob Long

    If Heyward refuses to discuss a contract extension again this off-season, don’t be surprised if Wrenn finds a very attractive offer for him.
    The Braves have Todd Cunningham and Joe Terdoslavich in AAA and either could man left field (with J Upton moving to right) for a lot less money, a better OBP and more consistent batting.
    That may be thinking “outside the box”, but Wrenn is known to trade players that don’t want to sign extensions (see Prado, Martin).

  • Lee

    I would hate to see Brian McCann leave the Braves organization. However, with the contract they gave to BJ Upton, it seems unlikely that the Braves would make another blunder, and meet McCann’s 5 yr. market value. As Bob pointed out below, there are a couple strong, younger players that could be signed for much less money. Jim, alternating Gattis & McCann in LF is plausible, but McCann would have to start working his core, and get in much better shape. Unfortunately, I think McCann’s days are numbered.

  • Jim

    Gatis alternating between catcher and left field

    And then where do we put the 15 million dollar Upton duo?

  • Ron

    I agree with resigning Him. His leadership alone is worth it. And I agree that he and Gattis should alternate as Catcher and Left Field.

  • rogerheld

    Actually, Gattis is a much better DH possibility than McCann. I can’t prove it but I think Gattis’ numbers are much worse when he plays the field. This may just be rookie/position jitters but he is also a primo pinch hitter (think Manny Mota/Dusty Rhodes). If they keep McCann they would essentially have a tenth player on the field in Gattis – as a super reliable pinch hitter. If teams really want to keep their fan base, they will start paying attention to who their “homies” are (e.g. McCann/Hudson). Guys like McCann who have some potential to reach the Hall of Fame should also realize their best chance is a very long run with a single team (or a couple of very long runs).

  • Clyde Murphy

    and do what with Justin Upton? We’ve got him through 2015.

    • There is a substantial market out there if the Braves ever want to trade Justin Upton.

      • Clyde Murphy

        As much as I like B Mac, in no way would I want to trade Upton to make room for him.

  • ler

    Not sure B Mac can play left field

  • Rodney

    I have an idea, it’s crazy, but hear it out. What of we move McCann to first, Gattis behind the dish, Freeman to third, trade Chris Johnson while the value is high this off-season?

    My second idea and something I’ve wondered why it hasn’t happened yet, why not just put Gattis at third And trade Johnson?

    The first option is more long term to get McCann out from behind the plate, while the latter is more of a short term option.

    • Those are certain “out of the box” ideas, Rodney.

      • Rodney

        But for real, I’m surprised we haven’t tried to mold Gattis into a third basemen by now. I also would bet that freeman could hold his own at third. I mean holy cow if Miggy can do it…

    • Michael

      It is crazy. Freeman at third? Gattis at third? Chris Johnson and Paul Janish are the perfect compliments to each other at that position. Why break up a winning combination? The same perfect combination also exists for the catcher position with McCann and Gattis, PLUS Gattis’s additional ability to sub at outfield positions when necessary for either batting or defensive ability. With the seeming oversupply of good pitching, it would be foolish to keep Maholm and his hefty salary, considering his mediocre performance. And I really like “rogerheld’s” idea above, about trading or releasing Uggla and moving La Stella into the 2B slot. I mean, how much lower of a batting average could this guy have in the majors than Uggla has?

  • judy

    brian mcmcann is a brave he is a good team leader yes he has been injured not his fault u take the good and the bad with good players team would be lost and alone without mcmcann my opion he still a decent player i know gattis is also like mccann both r good hope they leep both

    • Judy, I agree with you and hope they re-sign McCann. I’m more optimistic than a lot of other folks, though.

  • rogerheld

    From a money perspective, McCann could be easily signable. If they don’t re-sign Maholm, and O’Flaherty and re-sign Hudson at a home team/injury discount, then there should be enough money to re-sign McCann even at $14M without really raising the payroll. I suppose there may be some arbitration increases but not many. It would be even better if they trade or release Uggla and move La Stella into the 2B slot. Mark my words, La Stella is the reincarnation of Martin Prado. All that would make this team even younger and better than it already is. The only problem it leaves is having six high quality starters with more on the farm – not such a bad problem to have.

    • ozzie

      I like your thinking 100% but who said McCann’s looking for $14M a yr.? He loves the Atlanta Braves and I think if given a reasonable offer like 5yrs. plus the last 2yrs, with options, who knows ? It would be a good move for the Braves, McCann and especially the fans if he stays. No one’s going to take Uggla only if the Braves pick up some of his contract, right !! He’ll be here one more yr., to bad, he’s a good team mate but has his hang-ups. We’ll just have to wait for LaStella.