McCann's looming contract negotiations
April, 12, 2012
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
Russell Lansford/Icon SMIThe Braves will have to determine what an elite offensive catcher like Brian McCann is worth.The ripples from the Cardinals' signing of Yadier Molina have already been felt in the market, in the negotiations of Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero and Russell Martin. Molina's five-year, $75 million deal has allowed the agents for the other catchers to compare their clients to Molina and ask for more money.
Soon, another All-Star catcher will be helped by the shifting dynamics in the market: Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves. McCann is making $8.5 million this season, in the last year of his current contract, and the Braves hold a $12 million option on the slugger for 2013.
McCann is just 28 years old and is one of the premier catchers in the majors. And while Molina is generally regarded as peerless defensively, McCann is among the pre-eminent offensive catchers, having posted an OPS between .817 and .896 in each of the last four seasons. He has an excellent reputation as a teammate, and like Joey Votto, he's the type of personality a club would want to build around.
But the Molina deal will probably place stress on McCann's negotiations with the Braves. He is in position to ask for maybe even a little more than Molina got -- at a time when the Braves' budget has been stagnant, holding in the $80-90 million range. Atlanta would have to devote about 20 percent of its payroll to McCann to retain the player who has been the most likely to replace Chipper Jones as the face of the franchise.
To this point, there has been little traction in these contract talks. The confluence of circumstances makes this a negotiation worth watching. The Braves really don't have to hit this head on until later this season or in the winter.
• Speaking of catchers (or at least someone who played catcher in the past): Victor Martinez could be back to the Detroit Tigers late in the season.
Imagine what Detroit's lineup would look like:
CF: Austin Jackson
RF: Brennan Boesch
3B: Miguel Cabrera
1B: Prince Fielder
DH: Victor Martinez
LF: Delmon Young
C: Alex Avila
SS: Jhonny Peralta
2B: Ryan Raburn
• Vin Scully is still out with a bad cold.
• Torii Hunter is realistic about his future, writes Bill Plunkett.
Look, Hunter is not going to be looking to max out on dollars with his next contract. He'll be looking for a situation to win, and I'd bet there are a lot of teams that would like to have him around on a short-term, relatively low-cost deal as a third or fourth outfielder. Last year, he had an .886 OPS against left-handed pitching.
• With some depth in their rotation, the New York Yankees would be open to dealing a starter, and the most obvious candidate would be Freddy Garcia, because of his age and because he's signed for just one year. But to this point, there have not been any trade talks regarding Garcia.
• Marlon Byrd is not helping his trade value: He's hitless in his last 19 at-bats.
• You want bizarre? How about the way Oakland Athletics won their game against the Kansas City Royals?
From Elias: "It was the first major-league game since the summer of 1966 to end with the last two batters each being hit with pitches. Back on Sept. 2, 1966, Baltimore junkballer Stu Miller lost a game in the 11th inning at Chicago by hitting the last two batters -- a pair of future Mets World Series heroes -- Al Weis and Tommie Agee. (But here's a good omen for the Royals: the Orioles rebounded from that moment of ignominy and wound up winning that year's World Series!)"
Broxton was a good low-cost signing for the Royals. But when they installed him as the replacement for Joakim Soria right away, you had to wonder if this was the right move, because Broxton seemingly was still in the process of rebuilding his confidence. Maybe it would be best now, before the Royals return home, to install Greg Holland as the closer and shift Broxton into a setup role.
From Bob Dutton's story about the loss: