This could be the last year Brian McCann takes the field for his hometown team. His six year, $26.8 million contract officially expires at the end of this year after the Braves chose to exercise his one year option. Injuries have plagued McCann over the past few years and will play a huge factor in deciding whether or not he will return. There have been reports that McCann was displeased at the way the front office handled his injury last year and the lengths he went to in order to play through it. Even though things seem to have been patched up contract talks are likely on hold until this season concludes.
This year, like contract years in all sports, will be hugely important for both sides. McCann could be looking at a massive payday if he has a good season and decides to explore the free agent market. The Braves will need to decide how important he is to their success and whether he is worth the money or not. Historically the Braves have been reluctant to sign players to big contracts. After the slew of acquisitions they made this off season it looks like McCann won’t be back unless he is willing to give the Braves a hometown discount. I think I speak for most Braves fans when I say they should re-sign him because he is both a team leader one of the best offensive catchers in the game. In the event that McCann does not return, what would that mean for the future?
We will start the season with a potential preview of the future while McCann misses most of the first month. After losing David Ross in free agency the Braves went right out and signed Gerald Laird to a two year deal. He is not meant to be an every day starter, but he seems to be well-liked among fans. Laird brings a degree of experience to the team, having been a part of the past two World Series. He already appears to be settling in with the team.
Behind Laird on the depth chart is prospect Evan Gattis. He has performed well enough this spring to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Gattis is a promising young catcher that could be poised to take the starting position should McCann leave Atlanta.
If all goes well this year McCann will hopefully be behind the plate next year at Turner Field. There is always a possibility that the Braves don’t want to take the risk of letting McCann walk for nothing and try to trade him. Hopefully they don’t give up on him and try to get a deal done, but at least it’s good to know we have a respectable backup and a new catcher waiting for his time to shine.