Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trading Brian McCann Without Hurting Gary Sanchez

There has been some backlash to the idea of trading Brian McCann, and at one point I joined them. The reason for doing so stemmed from my belief that catchers are perhaps the most intelligent and well-informed players on the field.

A catcher has to learn the tendencies of his pitching staff, so that he knows what pitches his pitcher likes to throw in certain situations. He also needs to learn about opposing hitters, and what pitches they're good at hitting and in what situations.

But it doesn't end there...

Catchers also need to be aware of what's going on throughout the game, as they sometimes have to call plays. Most notably when there are runners on first and third.

Having a good rapport with pitchers can help a ton, as there are times a pitcher needs to be talked to. Whether that be because a certain hitter is coming up, and they need to discuss strategy to get him out. Or perhaps the pitcher is struggling, and the catcher either needs to give that pitcher a break or communicate a possible reason for the struggling.

It's safe to say that a catcher's value goes way beyond the numbers on the back of their baseball cards. Heck, I didn't even mention pitch-framing, which is something Brian McCann is known to be very good at.

"Are you questioning how much I make? Really?"

As good as Gary Sanchez has looked at the plate, to go along with much praise on how he's improved defensively behind the plate, he can learn a ton from Brian McCann over the last two years of McCann's contract (assuming the Yankees don't exercise their team option for Brian in 2019).

But how do you play both of them?

Do you simply let them alternate days as the team's designated hitter and catcher? Although, it's not as though the team couldn't use the DH spot to give at bats to others. For example, Greg Bird could DH every so often while Austin Romine played a game at first base. Or Aaron Judge could get a half day off and DH while Tyler Austin starts in right field. Not to mention that Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury are no longer young, so they could use a DH-day, too.

I suppose Brian McCann could start at first base every once in a while. He has appeared at 1B in 29 games since coming to New York a couple of years ago. Although McCann has made it clear he's not comfortable over there. Plus, the Yankees have Greg Bird and others that could get time at first base, like the aforementioned Tyler Austin or Rob Refsnyder.

Like with trading so many other players, it all comes down to what the Yankees can get in return. You don't want to give away Brian McCann for next to nothing. This is not a "money dump" situation. If somebody such as the Atlanta Braves offer a couple of good to great prospects, then go ahead and do it. But the return has to be something the Yankees can use, if not right away at least sometime down the road, at the MLB level.

That's not to say I expect the Yankees to get another prospect the level of Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres. But I'm not talking about a player(s) to be named later, either.

One last thing to keep in mind...

While McCann has all those things I mentioned earlier to offer Gary Sanchez, Brian isn't the only person around the Yankee clubhouse that could do that. There is another person that had a long catching career, saw things from both the American League and National League side of things, and has mentored another catcher before he had a great career...


I know that Joe Girardi has a lot on his plate as the team's manager, so he may not have a lot of time to offer Gary Sanchez as a mentor. But Sanchez won't be on his own when it comes to learning how to catch in Major League Baseball.

And Girardi's not the only guy on the coaching staff with plenty of MLB catching experience...


Current Yankees' First Base coach, Tony Pena, spent 18 years as a catcher in MLB. Seven plus years of that was spent in the American League. And you can't say Pena wasn't any good as a catcher, as he was a five time All Star and four time recipient of the Gold Glove Award.

So I don't think trading McCann would necessarily hurt the development of Gary Sanchez. Not that Brian's presence wouldn't be a good thing for Gary, but there are others around that can help. The main thing for the Yankees, should they deal away McCann, is to get something good in return. Perhaps some pitching help, now that Nathan Eovaldi's days in pinstripes may be over.

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