Yankees get their man in Brian McCann

Joe Girardi shakes hands with Brian McCann during Joe Girardi shakes hands with Brian McCann during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. (Dec. 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

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On the day the Yankees introduced Brian McCann, Brian Cashman made it clear that he has envisioned him in pinstripes for some time.

Calling it "a pretty predictable move,'' the general manager on Thursday said the Yankees needed an upgrade behind the plate and noted that McCann's lefthanded-hitting pop figures to translate well with Yankee Stadium's short rightfield porch. "Anyone who follows this game'' could see that much, Cashman said.

But at the same time, when the clock struck midnight to begin the first day of free agency last month, Cashman wasn't necessarily eager to be the first GM to make contact with McCann.

Asked if he immediately reached out to McCann the first minute he was allowed to do so, Cashman all but laughed.

"I think that's all silliness and overblown all the time,'' he said. "You can call him at 12:01 when he's eligible to talk, but the truth is that all that matters is the financial offer you're making. All that other stuff is pomp and circumstance.''

Cashman knew going in that he most likely already had the upper hand against everybody else chasing McCann. History has showed that when the Yankees set out to sign someone, they usually succeed because they have the resources to outbid the field.

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In McCann's case, Cashman said his initial prediction was that McCann would receive a five-year deal for $75 million. So he one-upped himself, extending an offer of $85 million over five years, with a vesting option for a sixth year that would bring the contract's value to $100 million.

"We made a significant offer that clearly got their attention,'' Cashman said, and McCann's agent requested an in-person meeting in New York.

So last month McCann came up from his suburban Atlanta home, toured Yankee Stadium, met members of the front office and dined with team officials for three hours. He came away impressed with how prepared the Yankees were for the meeting. "They knew me inside and out and they knew what I stood for,'' he said. " . . . They make you feel the way you want to feel.''

McCann, 29, was raised outside Atlanta and has played for only the Braves during his nine-year big-league career, so to get a better feel for everything that goes with being a Yankee, he called former Braves teammate Mark Teixeira.

"He told me this place is about winning and this place is about family,'' McCann said, "and those two things are high on my list.''

And of course McCann was drawn to the ballpark's dimensions, which he called "a perfect fit for me.''

Playing his home games at Turner Field, McCann averaged 21 home runs a year during his eight full seasons. The majority of them, he said, went to rightfield. So if he continues on the same career track while playing his home games at Yankee Stadium, who knows where his career will wind up?

Perhaps even Cooperstown, Cashman said. "We're hoping clearly that he can come over here and continue the type of production on both the offensive and defensive side he provided in Atlanta,'' he said. "If he can do that, you're talking about a potential Hall of Famer.''

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