NEW YORK – Free-agent catcher Brian McCann and the New York Yankees are about to complete a five-year deal worth around $85 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Saturday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn’t finalized. The contract is expected to include a vesting option worth $15 million. The deal’s completion is pending a physical.
In an already brisk offseason throughout the majors, the McCann move would be the first major addition for the Yankees since they missed the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years. They finished fourth in the AL East this year.
The Yankees made finding a catcher a priority, and McCann was the best available. The seven-time All-Star played all nine of his big-league seasons with the Atlanta Braves, hitting at least 20 homers for a sixth straight season before choosing to test the market after the World Series.
The 29-year-old McCann returned from offseason shoulder surgery in April and hit .256 with 57 RBIs in 356 at-bats for the NL East champions.
The Braves will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second round of the June draft because McCann turned down their $14.1 million qualifying offer.
The Yankees relied heavily on career backup Chris Stewart last year after Francisco Cervelli was injured, then suspended 50 games. They had let Gold Glove catcher Russell Martin leave as a free agent in a cost-cutting move before the 2013 season.
McCann bats left-handed, always a bonus for power hitters at Yankee Stadium with the short right-field fence. He is a career .277 hitter with 176 home runs and 661 RBIs.
The Yankees still have their own free-agent business to deal with. Star second baseman Robinson Cano is on the market and seeking a contract worth up to $300 million, and the Yankees have said they won’t go that high.
New York hopes to get under the 2014 tax threshold of $189 million for 2014. Not including McCann’s deal, New York’s luxury tax payroll so far is $97.1 million for seven signed players next year.
Several teams have been busy since the season ended.
The Detroit Tigers sent first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler in a swap of All-Stars with rich contracts.The St. Louis Cardinals traded former World Series MVP and hometown product David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels, and Philadelphia recently re-signed Carlos Ruiz, taking another top free-agent catcher off the market.