October 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) speaks with catcher Brian McCann (16) during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thank You, Brian McCann


Last year, we waved a long goodbye to a certain Hall-of-Famer to be:  Chipper Jones.

Either Tonight – or Wednesday if a miracle occurs – we could see the end of another great career in Atlanta:  that of Brian McCann. [No, the series isn't over - clearly - but we do need to savor the last swings he'll take for us... for as long as it does last.]

Oh, Brian’s not done… far from it.  But his days behind a tomahawk are likely done, as his free agent price tag will be upwards of $15m-$18m per year for 4 to 5 years.  The Braves just don’t have a history of extending many contracts at all, much less those of catchers who will turn 30 the next time he reports to Spring Training (somewhere) with a new pitching staff.  [See Lopez, Javy if you disagree.]  As it is, he’s already on an extension deal:  7 years, $41.3m that worked well for the Braves.  But alas, that deal is nearly done; it will officially expire just after the World Series ends.

He grew up here:  Duluth High School – just north of town.  He’s been with Atlanta since 2005.  The accolades have piled up quickly:

  • All-Star 7 years
  • Silver Slugger award 5 times (surprising, given he’s in the same league that Yadier Molina belongs to)
  • 29.4 total fWAR (38th all time as a catcher already)
  • 176 homers, 661 RBI… heck, he’s got 23 sneaky steals.
  • People complain about his durability, but he has the 3rd most innings catching since 2005 (A.J. Pierzinski, Molina).
  • People complain about his defense, but clearly he’s worked hard on that over the years:  single digit errors every year since 2010 (no more than 5, actually).  Caught stealing rates increasing, plus multiple pitchers notorious for poor runner holding are gone.


Is Brian McCann a HOFer? 

Not yet – still a lot of work to be done there.  On that all-time catching WAR chart, Johnny Bench still leads the way (74.8).  More recent names like Jorge Posada (16th), Joe Mauer (18th), Mike Piazza (6th), are on that chart ahead of him… heck, Javy Lopez is 33rd.  He’ll probably need to be in that top 15 (45+ WAR) to have a shot.  But the American League could give him that opportunity.

Ah, the American League:  the league in which all good bats go to be preserved and extended.  But this clearly makes the most sense for Brian – or any aging catcher with offensive abilities.  There are teams already salivating at the chance to opening the bidding for his services:

  • Texas.  Having let Mike Napoli go to Boston, they picked up A.J. Pierzinski.  This worked in spades for them, but he is nearly 37 years old.
  • Boston.  Nothing settled there since dumping Jason Varitek.  And Jarrod Saltalamacchia still hasn’t quite been the answer for them.
  • Yankees.  Nothing settled there since Jorge Posada.  They have obviously realized their error in letting Russell Martin go, too.  Their roster problems run far deeper, though.
  • LA Angels.  Less of a player since Chris Iannetta is under contract through 2015.  But he’s 30 years old, too.  Funny that they’ve had a rough catching position (15 catchers since 2000) despite Mike Scioscia being the manager and having names like Mike Napoli and two different Molinas on the roster from time to time.
  • ChiSox.  They would have to overpay to get Brian… because they aren’t ready to win yet.
  • Seattle.  Will likely throw a pile of money in his direction.  I expect he’ll have to block their calls.

National League teams will bid, too, but they’re already at a severe disadvantage before this frenzy even starts.  So in handicapping the Brian McCann sweepstakes, I’ll go Texas – 40%, Boston 35%, Yankees 15%, Angels 5%, all others 5%.

Unfortunately, that leaves the Braves at perhaps 1% with the “others”, seeing as they only way it happens is if Brian decides that it is his desire to stay and finish up with his own home-town team…leaving probably $20-30m more on the table.  I could see Frank Wren going $15m/3 years for him… but no more.  And that’s just now going to do it.

The bright spots for Braves’ fans?

  • Christian Bethancourt is actually looking like he could do the job – the glove has always been there, and the bat came around this year at AA.  I can foresee a half-season at AAA, and then a possible call-up somewhere between the All-Star break and September 2014 if that’s confirmed next year.
  • Evan Gattis has been one of the very few bright spots in this current playoff series:  batting .500 with a .583 OBP.  Even Brian – despite some good ABs and near homers – is still hitting .000.
  • Frank Wren will extend Brian the token Qualifying Offer – clearly – and thus the Braves will be able to snag an extra after-the-first-round draft pick in 2014.  In 2013, that pick was Jason Hursh.

So thank you, Brian:  it will be a sad day in Atlanta – and throughout Braves’ country – when you walk away.

We wish you well.

9:37 EDT tonight… be there.

Next Braves Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:10Philadelphia PhilliesBuy Tickets

Tags: Atlanta Braves Brian Mccann

  • Matthew Jones

    The days of players taking hometown discounts to finish their careers with one team I believe is gone. I wonder if the Braves will end up actually trading for a catcher rather than going with Bethancourt/Gattis all year.

    One thing that I will say too is that McCann’s handling of pitchers is completely underrated. He’s really come along in that area.

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      Bethancourt is a much better defensive catcher than either Laird or Gattis, and especially Gattis. Because his bat has come around to what scouts envisioned when he was highly drafted, if he has a good spring, I’ve said before he should get strong consideration for regular catcher in 2014. The problem as you all know is the BJ Upton contract, which the Braves cannot ignore. He has got to play, so generally that makes Gattis a catcher unless he’s used in platoon with BJ/and others next year. With BJ’s struggles, I would start out 2014 in just that fashion, with a Bethancourt/Laird platoon at catcher. But that’s just me. I don’t expect Fredi or Frank to see the wisdom of that, or to agree.

      • Matthew Jones

        I don’t either. Frankly, I see Gattis being a trade piece, much how Prado was this last season. I’d hate it, but as you point out, where do you play him? If we had the DH in the NL, frankly that’s where you’d stash him. But as we saw this season with him, he has to get regular playing time or else his bat slips a great deal.

        Also, since I’m posting this after the game, McCann’s final line for the postseason this year: 0-12. Not exactly how he wanted to go out, I’m sure.

  • Josh Barnhill

    It’s hard to think of BMac in any jersey other than a Braves one. But just like Javy, Glavine, Smoltz, etc. you’ve just got to let go. I think Gattis/Laird and then Bethancourt will give us just as much, or maybe 90% of the production McCann would have and are just such a better value. The Braves seem to always be better at finding value than offering large sums of money for production.

  • fireboss

    Word here in Texas is that they put Mac at the top of their list. They have the $$ to sign him and Mac would be a lot more at home in Arlington than New York or Boston. Boston likes Salty a lot in spite of his catcher like hitting -odd that hitting what is mostly expected of a catcher is considered a reason not to sign a catcher – and they have Ross on the books for next year. Ross is a reason Mac might go there and the short RF porch seems to suit him but again I doubt he’d love Boston as a home. No one else really can afford him except Seattle where I wouldn’t allow a dog to sign and LA who should be really happy with Ellis and will want to spend money elsewhere I suspect. So I’d say Texas 65, Boston 25, anywhere else what’s left.
    I expect it to be Bethancourt/Laird tandem by the ASG anyway provided CB continues to hit at least like Salty. This may sound way out of line but I’d trade Gattis for the right piece. He’s an ever day bat without a job in ATL. Bethancourt is better defensively. People know he can hit and would pony up pretty well for him. There’s one team that’s suffered at catcher and doesn’t have the money to pay Mac sooooo What about Mac and maybe a couple of Lower level prospects for David Price?
    Don’t choke until you think about it a bit. They essentially did a James Shields for Wil Meyers because they needed a power outfield bat. They could really use a power bat that didn’t cost much at catcher because they like Loney at first and their outfield is pretty good; Gattis is a direct fit.

    Okay, I’m crazy right?

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      I’m a bit confused on your trade idea… you don’t mean McCann, right (since we no longer control him)? If you mean Gattis, then it would require him plus at least one top-tier prospect to open the conversation… then two more at least.

      • fireboss

        Yes I meant Gattis and I fixed it. The Rays got Mike Montgomery (minors), Patrick Leonard (minors) and Jake Odorizzi for Wade Davis, James Shields and eventually Elliot Johnson. This is on the fly so I reserve the right to adjust after I actually study the details a bit.

        EJ was obviously a throw it let’s see if he works at second base guy so it was Davis and Shields for Myers Mo1 prospect, Montgomery 23rd, Odorizzi 92 and Leonard -unrated. Parsing that a bit on the fly that’s something like Myers, Montgomery and EJ for Shields; Ororizzo and Leonard for Davis.

        I know Gattis is too old to be a prospect but he is a major league proven hitter who fits their needs and as such close to Myers in this exposition. for the Montgomery slot either Northcroft or Mauricio Cabrera and perhaps in the Orodozzi spot Mark Lamm.

        Maybe that’s too much in some eyes but I believe that we need a Price level arm. Consider a rotation of Price, Medlen, Minor, Beachy, Teheran and a bullpen of Kimbrel, Avilan, Venters, Sims, Graham, Carpenter,

        I know the arguments for Cody Martin, Hale and others to be in the rotation but Price signed for 5 years at 100 is a direct fit for our rotation. WE will need to package someone with Uggla to get a team to take him and that is likely a guy like Hale though I do like him a lot. So that’s the theory, reinforce the rotation to be competitive withe the Nats Big three and for that matter anyone else’s, restock the pen with Power arms and get a second baseman who can hit, get on base and deliver runs at league average and field the position, put Bethancourt behind the plate and keep Laird who was what I said he would be this year; productive and mentoring to staff and Gattis. Of course that would require Wren to think outside the box which is like Gattis stealing 20 bases; not likely to happen at all

        • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

          Conjecture is fun, but I prefer to wait and see what the Braves actually do, and then analyze the stupidity of it. Rarely am I analyzing brilliance.

  • Austin Kalar