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Brian McCann, Yankees agree to five-year, $85M deal

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann looks to the

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann looks to the Phillies dugout with his helmet in hand during the seventh inning. (Sept. 7, 2013) Credit: AP

The Yankees have said throughout the offseason that they're not willing to wait for Robinson Cano to make a decision before they start to spend money.

They meant it, reaching an agreement Saturday night with former Braves catcher Brian McCann, among the top free agents on the market. first reported the deal to be worth $85 million over five years with a sixth-year vesting option. According to The Associated Press, the vesting option is worth $15 million.

The parameters of the deal, which won't become official until the 29-year-old McCann passes a physical, apparently came together rather quickly, with a source earlier in the day characterizing the discussions between the two sides as "getting intense."

"Intense'' is an accurate description of the Yankees' pursuit of McCann, who made a clandestine visit to the Bronx earlier in the week.

When the offseason began, he quickly emerged as one of the club's top priorities (along with retaining Cano and acquiring Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka, if he's posted).

The lefthanded-hitting McCann can hit for power -- his swing is "perfect" for Yankee Stadium's short rightfield porch, one American League talent evaluator said -- and also is known as an outstanding clubhouse presence who is deft with a pitching staff.

"He handled their young pitching staff really well," one Yankees insider said of McCann's work with the Braves. "I like his makeup, the way he carries himself."

McCann, who turns 30 in February, hit .256 with a .336 on-base percentage, 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 102 games last season. Since 2006, his first full year in the majors, McCann has averaged 21 homers and 80 RBIs, winning five Silver Slugger awards at catcher, including four straight times from 2008-2011.

A potential red flag is the series of injuries -- including shoulder surgery in October 2012 to repair a torn labrum -- that have limited McCann to 102 and 121 games the last two years.

"Doesn't throw like he used to," said one NL scout, who nonetheless gave a strong endorsement of the catcher.

Last offseason, the Yankees made the decision to let Russell Martin go to the Pirates as a free agent -- a move that members of the baseball operations staff opposed -- and spent the season paying for it, at least offensively. Chris Stewart and Austin Romine -- as well as Francisco Cervelli for a short while before he broke a finger in April -- were fine defensively, but Yankees catchers combined to hit .213 with eight homers.

On Tuesday, Yankees president Randy Levine reiterated what he said the previous week during the general managers' and owners' meetings in Orlando regarding Cano: The Yankees are pursuing several big-name free agents, including McCann, and the money isn't going to be there forever.

The goal very much remains to bring payroll to $189 million and, unless managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner backtracks on that, there's only so much money to spend. Cano and the Yankees remain about $140 million apart in talks.

Among the free agents in whom the Yankees remain interested are outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran and shortstops Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta.

Having lost out on McCann, the Rangers, in the market for a bat, are likely to become even more serious bidders for Choo and Beltran.

"They're really hot after McCann," one talent evaluator said Thursday of the Rangers. "They want him big time."

There has been talk around Steinbrenner Field in Tampa that perhaps the Rangers, after dealing for Prince Fielder last week, might look to send second baseman Jurickson Profar, one of the game's top prospects, and first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Rays for lefthander David Price. Dealing Profar would free up second base, allowing for a full-bore pursuit of Cano.

But on Saturday night, a talent evaluator familiar with the Rangers' thinking characterized the chances of a run at Cano as "remote."

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