SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — This offseason, other general managers are bringing up one Yankee’s name to Brian Cashman more than most: Brian McCann.
“The catching market’s very thin, so it’s not surprising,” Cashman said.
McCann, who has two years left on the five-year, $85-million deal he signed before the 2014 season, lost the starting catcher’s job to rookie Gary Sanchez in August. But, as Cashman said, quality starting catchers are in short supply, and McCann has a track record few can match.
Since becoming a full-time catcher in 2006 with the Braves, McCann, who turns 33 Feb. 20, is a seven-time All-Star who has averaged 22 homers and 79 RBIs a season. Extremely popular with his pitchers, McCann also has been durable, averaging 132 games.
“He’s one of the better catchers in the game,” Cashman said.
He does have a full no-trade clause, so McCann would have to sign off on any deal the Yankees reached with another club.
Cashman said out of respect for McCann, he’s kept his agent, B.B. Abbott, in the loop.
“(Abbott) said, ‘Just keep me posted and you guys go through the process and when you feel you want to talk to me about something, give us a call,’ ” Cashman said yesterday at the annual general managers meetings. He said Abbott “hasn’t told me ‘no’ on anything. I do have a personal belief of what (teams) is more workable than others.”
One possible landing spot is Atlanta, because the Braves need a catcher and are more than familiar with McCann, whom they drafted in 2002. The Georgia native debuted with the Braves in 2005 and was their starting catcher from 2006-13. They tried to acquire McCann before last season’s trade deadline but balked when Cashman asked for two prized minor leaguers.
To be clear, it’s not necessarily a matter of trying actively to move McCann, who last season posted a .242/.335/.413 slash line in 130 games, with 20 homers and 58 RBIs.
As of now, Cashman said, the plan is for McCann to be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter next season and an occasional backup for Sanchez. “Gary will catch most of the time and then Mac will back him up, and Mac will DH when Gary’s catching,” Cashman said.
Serving primarily as the DH in the season’s last 44 games, McCann had a slash line of .255/.340/.394, with five homers and 16 RBIs.
“A lot of teams expressed interest and (there were) offers I’ve said no to,” Cashman said. “Again, if I ever get to a point where something makes enough sense, Mac will have the final say, as he’s earned the right to have that final say. He’s extremely respected by us, he’s been a great leader in that clubhouse, and he’s in play for us as we move forward (in 2017), unless something presents itself. Then I’ll include him in the process and he’ll be the final decision-maker.”