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Brian McCann and the Blue Jays: BBB Staff Free Agent Picks

Bluebird Banter writers were asked who they would pick if they could choose one free agent for the Blue Jays to sign. It is Tom's turn.

Isn't this what we want from our catcher? No? How about the ability to walk more than once a month? - Photo credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Isn't this what we want from our catcher? No? How about the ability to walk more than once a month? - Photo credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Nick started us off on this exercise of giving Alex Anthopoulos the benefit of our expertise by letting him know which free agents we'd like the Jays to sign, by making the case for Scott Kazmir. I mean, if the Jays are going to spend tens of millions of dollars on a handful of players, they will be wanting our input, so we thought we'd speed up the process by giving it before they asked. That's just the type of people we are. Since we are trying to keep things somewhere close to the edge of reality, we aren't choosing Robinson Cano, as much as we'd love to have him, but not for amount of money, or length of contract, that he will receive.

My pick?

Brian McCann.

The whys are obvious, our catchers hit a collective .194/.235/.348 in 2013. McCann hit .256/.336/.461 with 20 home runs n 102 games. Given his .261 BABIP, and 22.3% line drive rate, he might have had a bit of bad luck, so those numbers shouldn't drop much. Career he has a .277/.350/.473 line.

Or to put in in WAR numbers, Fangraphs had J.P. Arencibia at a -0.6 WAR, Josh Thole at -0.5 and Henry Blanco -0.1 for a total of -1.2 WAR out of our three catchers.

McCann had 2.7 WAR. Since 2010, Brian has put up WAR values of 5.1, 3.9, 1.7 and 2.7.

On defense, he's not a Gold Glove winner, but then he's not JP either. His arm isn't any better than average, he caught 24% of base strealers in each of the last two season. Personally, as long as he doesn't throw from his knees into the outfield half the time, I'd be happy. On top of that, he's said to be very good at blocking pitches in the dirt and no one complains about his pitch calling.

Yeah, there is the 'fun police' stuff, but then I wouldn't be against having someone tough on the time. Can you imagine him getting on David Ortiz' case for standing in the batter's box, watching his home run? As much as I think that stuff is silly, if you don't want the other team celebrating don't throw up meatballs to hit, maybe he would give the team a toughness that is missing.

Every second article I read, about the Jays, talks about 'changing the culture' in the clubhouse. If that is something you care about, McCann would be a step towards that. As a Brave, he made it to the playoffs 4 times (losing out in the first round each time, but let's ignore that). I'm sure that, as well as being the fun police for the opposing teams, he'd likely have ideas on how his teammates should behave themselves too.

McCann is a lefty bat, there aren't enough catchers that swing from the left side. I really wouldn't be all that against having JP platoon with McCann some of the time. Yeah, if JP is the other catcher, McCann would have to learn to catch R.A. Dickey, but I'd like to think that he could do it. If McCann played 120ish games and Arencibia 40, I likely could live with it.

McCann turns 30 in February, and is likely going to be getting a 5-year contract. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to catch 100+ games, for the life of a 5-year deal, but that we have the DH spot to occasionally rest him, later in the contract, it makes the deal a little less worrisome.

I'd think McCann will be signing for 5 years, at somewhere around $90 million. Rogers should be able to handle that. The worry is that the Yankees and Red Sox might be after him too, but we should be able to steal one free agent from those guys, shouldn't we? If the price goes up to 5 years and $100 million, I'm still ok with it. A sixth year, on some sort of vested option, I'd still be happy.

Tim Dierkes has McCann number 4, on his Top 50 Free Agents' list. He also figures him to go to the Rangers. Keth Law has Brian number 8 on his Top 50 list.

So Alex, you have your assignment, get on it.