A familiar, yet unusual name is available this offseason for the Phillies to consider
Phillies fans have known the name Brian McCann all too well for years. Once a star for the Atlanta Braves, McCann hit 22 home runs against the Phillies, the most against any team in his 14-year career.
After the played nine years in Atlanta as a hometown hero, McCann went to the Yankees in 2013 and was traded to the Astros prior to their 2017 championship season.
Admittedly this isn’t the perfect situation for McCann, but it does make sense for both Philadelphia and the 34-year-old in many ways.
Reasons to sign McCann
The Phillies need to have a veteran backup behind Jorge Alfaro at catcher. They tried the Andrew Knapp experiment, and despite how much Gabe Kapler loves Knapp’s grit, he’s not a major league player. Matt Klentak acknowledged at the trade deadline that Knapp’s grit wasn’t enough to stick with the team, and traded for Wilson Ramos.
With Ramos being a free agent the Phillies have to look at all the veteran catchers on the free agent market to back up and mentor Alfaro. McCann can be the mentor Alfaro needs both behind and at the plate.
McCann has never struck out 100 times in a season and when healthy he hits for power at a consistent rate. His 13 career home runs at Citizens Bank Park are the most in his career at a ballpark that wasn’t his own. He’s also hit .288 with 50 RBI playing in Philadelphia.
At this point in his career McCann won’t sit behind home plate for 150 games. Splitting reps between Alfaro and McCann can gives Philadelphia a solid balance to keep developing Alfaro and keep McCann healthy.
McCann can mentor not just Alfaro, but also the pitching staff. He knows how to call games, something many have criticized Alfaro for with the onslaught of young pitchers in the Phillies organization.
He’ll also be a relatively cheap option for Klentak in an offseason where they plan to spend big. That cheap deal gives the Phillies a veteran leader who can pull them through the dog days of summer.
Reasons not to sign McCann
As mentioned earlier, Philadelphia is not the ideal fit for McCann. When with the Yankees or Astros he could be utilized as a designated hitter when not behind the plate, allowing for his 20 home run potential to play out during a 162 game season.
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McCann is also coming off arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, which cost him all of July and August. While he wouldn’t be relied on to be the everyday catcher in Philadelphia, the organization still need a reliable option off the bench should Alfaro struggle or go down with an injury.
Outside of his first five years in the league, McCann has never had a terrific batting average. Over the last five years he’s hit .234 with a .314 OBP. He still has the raw power that’s propelled his career, but he’s not as consistent a hitter as the Phillies would like.
McCann likely wants to win now and pick up a second championship ring before he retires. He’ll turn 35 in February, far from a spring chicken when pitchers and catchers report.
Unless better options go off the table early the Phillies likely won’t be in play for McCann. It would take a unique circumstance for the Phillies and McCann to come to an agreement.
With that being said, a one or two-year deal could give Philadelphia a leader in the clubhouse who can mentor Alfaro and the pitching staff.