Brian McCann Now Expendable for Atlanta Braves

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIMarch 25, 2013

Brian McCann is no longer a necessity at catcher for the Atlanta Braves.

Most Atlanta fans never thought they would hear that.

In fact, some fans would consider it blasphemy to speak that way. Then again, those are the same fans that are still angry with the Braves over how the team handled the Jeff Francoeur and Tom Glavine situations.

Like Francoeur, McCann is a hometown kid, which makes it even more personal for fans.

But, when McCann becomes a free agent after the 2013 season, he is not a must-sign for the Braves.

His offensive numbers have been there (for the most part) but consider his numbers behind the plate.

Over the last two years, McCann has allowed 180 stolen bases. It may not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but it's still a high number to give up.

Injuries, cost and the emergence of Evan Gattis have shown the Braves would be better suited to spend their money elsewhere.



The last two years have been anything but great for McCann in the injury department.

While his numbers have been decent (.251 BA, 44 HR, 138 RBI), McCann has also missed games due to injuries.

Some of the time missed was due to blurry vision, which started back in 2009.

Add in the fact that McCann will miss the first few weeks of this season (shoulder surgery), and there is concern there.

What makes it worse is David Ross is no longer with the team. In his place is Gerald Laird, who the Braves signed in the offseason to replace Ross.


The Cost

There is no doubt McCann has been one of the better catchers in baseball since 2006.

But, is he worth $12 million a year, which is what he's making this year?

You have to figure that number will be a starting point (at the very least) by McCann's agent BB Abbott. Joe Mauer makes $23 million a year, while Yadier Molina makes $14 million.

Plus, you have to figure Buster Posey is about to get paid like crazy by the San Francisco Giants.

McCann is going to want to remain one of the highest-paid catchers in baseball, although I don't expect him to ask for Mauer-type money.

Even if it's $13-15 million a year, is it really worth it for the Braves?

Consider Jason Heyward just went through his first year of being arbitration eligible. Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel aren't far behind, either.

With the salaries of the Upton brothers, the money you're going to have to pay Heyward and Kimbrel, and the money pit known as Dan Uggla, could the Braves swing a major deal for McCann?


The emergence of Gattis

Gattis has been tearing up spring training this year.

While stats from the Grapefruit League must be taken with a grain of salt, it's hard to look past what he's done.

Through the spring, Gattis has hit .388 with five home runs, 14 RBI, five doubles and 11 runs scored.

He will likely spend a majority of the season in the minor leagues once McCann returns from injury, but 2014 is a different story.

Gattis will come into next year competing with Christian Bethancourt for the starting role.

And, if Bethancourt continues to struggle, it will be all Gattis' for the taking.

The Braves have good, young talent at catcher. There's no need to pay someone $13-15 million a year when you can have someone do just as well for a lot less money.


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