'Blown away' by Yanks, McCann arrives in Bronx
Seven-time All-Star joins team on five-year contract, with vesting option for 2019
NEW YORK -- About an hour after Brian McCann had draped a pinstriped Yankees jersey across his shoulders and grinned widely for the flashing cameras, the newest catcher in the Bronx stopped himself in mid-sentence, apologizing for how many times he had described this as "a perfect fit."
But McCann said that is truly the impression that his whirlwind last few weeks have created, having been swept up by the Yankees and their offer of a five-year, $85 million contract. McCann is still months away from strapping on the gear for his new club, but he sounded like a man ready to get to work on Thursday.
"When the Yankees call you and you go through the process I went through, you leave blown away," McCann said. "There's a reason they're the New York Yankees. You walk in here, everything's bigger. They put attention to detail on everything, they make you feel the way that you want to feel."
As excited as McCann seemed to be in the Bronx, the Yankees are even more elated that their sales pitch was received. A left-handed-hitting catcher who has slugged 20 or more home runs in six consecutive seasons, McCann instantly upgrades the Bombers at a position where they needed serious improvement.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi were quick to tie McCann into the team's history of famed catchers, from Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra to Elston Howard and Thurman Munson to Jorge Posada.
"We're hoping, clearly, that he will be able to continue the type of production both on the offensive and defensive side that he provided in Atlanta," Cashman said. "And if he can continue to do that, you're talking about a potential Hall of Famer. So we're buying someone with that type of reputation and leadership. Obviously we have a lot of needs and this certainly fills one of them."
Already a seven-time All-Star, McCann followed the cue. He slipped on a No. 34 jersey -- a nod to former teammates Eric O'Flaherty and Derek Lowe, since his old No. 16 is retired for Whitey Ford -- and said that he hopes to live up to those expectations.
"What it means to be a part of this organization -- it means a lot, especially being a catcher, and all the tradition that's been in this organization," McCann said. "I hope to fall in line with all the great catchers and continue to build and win championships. I think that's why I'm here. I'm going to be a piece of the puzzle that's going to help this team win championships."
McCann's contract includes a vesting option for the 2019 season, as well as a no-trade clause. The Yankees and McCann reached agreement on a contract before the Thanksgiving holiday, but the deal was not officially announced until McCann could undergo his physical.
Hearing of the Yankees' interest from his agent, B.B. Abbott, intrigued McCann. The deal was essentially sealed by McCann's recent visit to New York, as a contingent of executives gave him a tour of the Yankee Stadium facilities and then sat down for a dinner that stretched into a three-hour discussion.
"From the outside looking in, you don't know what to expect," McCann said. "You just know it's a winning organization and tradition. But when I got to meet the people behind that, it was a big reason why I wanted to be here to be a big part of this process."
McCann said that he also leaned on Mark Teixeira, a former teammate from his Braves days, who told him that the Yankees value winning and family highly.
"Those two things were very high on my priority list," McCann said. "[Teixeira] didn't have to sell me. Once I came up here, I was pretty much sold."
Cashman said that McCann's personality will serve the Yankees' pitchers well, and that he tends to "make everyone feel warm and fuzzy" as a result of his inclusionary attitude.
But for the deal to truly live up to expectations, McCann will need to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch. After the Yanks watched their four catchers slug an MLB-low eight home runs in 2013, McCann's left-handed stroke is expected to mesh nicely.
"If you look at my career, a lot of my fly balls go to right-center field," said McCann, the only catcher to hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past six seasons. "It's going to make me a better all-around hitter."
"This ballpark should play to his skill level very well," Girardi said. "And to me, what I really fell in love with -- you can look at the offensive numbers, you can look at how his pitching staff has been successful, but it's the way he plays the game and the intensity he brings."
This past season, McCann batted .256 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs in 102 games. He missed the Braves' first 30 games of the year while recovering from right shoulder surgery, returning to throw out 24 percent of baserunners attempting to steal.
"I've had a really good career up to this point and I want to add on to what I've been able to accomplish," McCann said. "I want to win championships and I think this place allows me to do all those things. This was a perfect fit for me."