In a rebuild mode complicated by luxury-tax implications, Robinson Cano negotiations and the ongoing Alex Rodriguez saga, the New York Yankees on Saturday were nearing a multiyear agreement with free-agent catcher Brian McCann, sources said.
The contract is expected to be worth $85 million over five years with a sixth-year vesting option, according to a Fox Sports report. The deal is pending a physical.
The Boston Red Sox, among others, were believed to have interest in signing McCann.
A regular All-Star, the left-handed hitting McCann would seem a sound fit for Yankee Stadium. He has hit at least 20 home runs for six consecutive seasons, all of them for the Atlanta Braves, who drafted McCann in 2002 and are the only franchise he has played for. The Braves did make a qualifying offer to McCann and so would receive a draft pick as compensation, and apparently would cover the position next season with Evan Gattis and Christian Bethancourt.
The Yankees were outbid last winter by the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Russell Martin. As a result, their catchers – primarily Chris Stewart and Austin Romine – were among the least productive in the American League. Martin batted just .226 for the Pirates, but his 15 home runs were seven more than Yankees' catchers hit combined.
Catcher is among the Yankees' many needs and McCann easily was the best on an otherwise thin free-agent market.
The Yankees presumably have enough money left to sign Cano, though there seems to be a great difference between what the Yankees have offered – reportedly in the seven-year, $160 million neighborhood – and what Cano seeks. Team president Randy Levine said this week the Yankees would continue in their efforts to upgrade in several areas, and that potential signings could impact the team's ability to sign Cano.
The Yankees would prefer to lower their payroll to $189 million for 2014, thus restarting their luxury-tax clock. Among the complications: Rodriguez has been suspended for 211 games, but is awaiting the result of his appeal.