2013 Stats: 102 G, .256/.336/.461, 20 HR, 57 RBI
Why He's a Risk: Injuries, Price Tag
Brian McCann is among the hottest assets on the free-agency market this year, and he could be paid a fortune for his services behind the plate.
Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported that an MLB general manager said that McCann's contract could top $100 million.
While $100 million isn't what it used to be, that's still a ridiculous amount of money for an aging catcher. However, it could become a reality, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that some of baseball's wealthiest teams are pursuing McCann, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cubs and Angels.
It's just not smart money management to pay so much money for a catcher who will turn 30 before the 2014 season. As Dan Szymborski of ESPN (subscription required) writes, most catchers begin a steep decline in their 30s:
[McCann] already has 1,046 games behind the plate under his belt -- or in the case of a catcher, on his knees -- and the position tends to wear down players in their 30s. Only 26 other players in baseball history accumulated 900 games or more behind the plate before their age 30 season. Not counting Yadier Molina for obvious reasons, only nine of the 25 catchers on that list played 600 games at catcher over the rest of their career.
Even among those survivors, most of those catchers did not age gracefully. Gary Carter's last year as a force was at age 32 and his knees were shot after nine surgeries. Jason Kendall bounced back well from a gruesome ankle injury, but was done as an underrated star by age 30. Time caught up with Bill Dickey at 32 and Benito Santiago, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, spent his 30s as a journeyman stopgap.
If it wasn't enough that most catchers struggle at this point in their careers, it doesn't help that McCann has already dealt with serious injuries, including undergoing shoulder surgery last offseason and playing just 102 games in 2013.
McCann could be this year's Josh Hamilton, as the biggest bust in the free-agent class.
McCann is going to seek out a long-term contract, and he'll probably get it. The most that any team can hope for is a few more All-Star Game appearances and solid power numbers over the length of the contract.
As for the 2014 season, the team that signs him will no doubt hope for him to bat .290 with 25 to 30 home runs.
McCann's shoulder injury is scaring a lot of people. It's not the type of injury that just goes away for a catcher, and his defense could suffer because of it.
Combine that with the fact that catchers often have injury-riddled ends to their careers, and McCann might not be worth anywhere close to the $100 million he could be receiving.