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Free agency probably splits Brian McCann and Braves

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'You are ruining what might be my last day with the Braves, blue!' (Getty)

If Game 4 of the NLDS was the last for Brian McCann as a member of the Atlanta Braves, it was a rough way to go out. McCann struck out four times Monday night, finishing 0 for 13 in the series, and the Los Angeles Dodgers eliminated the Braves 4-3 after Juan Uribe hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning.

McCann did catch Yasiel Puig stealing second base in the fourth inning after Elliot Johnson picked McCann's throw out of the dirt. So there's that. Even though it long has been established that McCann would file for free agency this offseason, he and the Braves haven't had to face the likelihood of separation until now. McCann, who turns 30 in February, went to high school in Duluth, Ga., and was drafted by the Braves in 2002. As a professional, they're all he knows.

Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was with McCann after what might have been his last game as a Braves player:

[Related: Should Braves skipper have used Craig Kimbrel against Dodgers?]

“Man, I’m not sure,” McCann said. “It’s kind of hard to think about that right now. I’m just going to try to put it in the back of my mind and whatever happens is going to happen.”

McCann is eligible for free agency. He’s expected to command $15-$18 million annually on the open market and the Braves aren’t likely to pursue him with that kind of financial vigor, with catchers like Evan Gattis and Christian Bethancourt in the organization.

American League teams figure to lead the pursuit for McCann’s services, given the flexibility they’ll have to both catch him and use him at designated hitter or first base on down the line.

So even as McCann has tried to put the thoughts about a possible end to the back of his mind, he knew.

“There’s definitely a chance,” McCann said. “And I’m just trying not to think about it and whatever happens is going to happen, so I’m just not really thinking about it right now.”

McCann is one of the best catchers in the league, having averaged .277/.350/.473 with 26 homers per 162 games since 2005. He also doesn't cotton to those who might make a shenanigans out of the great game of baseball. A valuable player, certainly. He and the Braves will miss each other, if the market works as expected.

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