Yankees sign Brian McCann to five year deal

Stephen Dunn

Because they're the Yankees, and they can.

The Yankees have signed catcher Brian McCann to a five year, $85 million dollar deal with a vesting option for the sixth year that could bring the deal over $100 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. McCann, who will be thirty next season, is obviously and definitively the best catcher on the market right now (although Friend of the Site Bradley Woodrum makes an argument that over the past few years Jose Molina hasn't been far off). McCann hits well, blocks pitches well, frames pitches well, and throws okay. Any concerns over the worth of the contract are due to age and injury history (shoulder surgery in 2012).

Is $85 million a lot of money? Yes, of course it is. At an average annual salary of $17 million per year, though, it's difficult to say that this is an unreasonable overpay on the part of the Yankees. Estimates for the value of one win over replacement level range from around $5 million (Matt Swartz in 2012) to around $7 million (Lewie Pollis after 2013). Split the difference, and McCann only has to be a 3-WAR player to exceed the worth of his contract. The Steamer projection system pegs him for 3.6 WAR next season, and that's not including his framing skill. Add to this the fact that the Yankees financial resources mean that they can overpay, and the fact that their financial resources ensure they'll more often than not be on the position of the win curve where they should overpay, and it's not unreasonable.

So yes, there is some possibility that Brian McCann will turn into another Yankee albatross, but mostly this signing is an unpleasant reminder of what it means to play in the American League East. The Yankees and the Red Sox are never out for long. Two years ago Boston finished last in the division, but they made a few good additions to what was an underrated team and they won the World Series the following season. Last year the Yankees went 85-77 and missed the playoffs, but now they have arguably the best catcher in baseball (filling a position at which they were barely over replacement level in 2013).

This is what Andrew Friedman and the Rays must work against. There is no room for error. Every move must work; every player must reach or exceed his potential. While the Rays have made it look easy, reaching the playoffs in four of the past six years, it is not an easy game they are playing. When Moneyball was published in 2003, who would have thought that the Oakland Athletics would only make the playoffs once in the next eight years?

Can you say with complete confidence that the Rays are not on the verge of a similar drought? I can't.

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