Carlos Gomez #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers is confranted at home plate by Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves after hitting a first inning home run at Turner Field on September 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
(USATODAY) All-Star catcher Brian McCann has reached agreement on a five-year, $85 million contract with the New York Yankees, a major first step in an off-season that the club has vowed would be an active one.
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The agreement was confirmed to USA TODAY Sports by a club official with knowledge of the deal but not authorized to speak publicly, because it is still pending McCann passing a physical examination.
McCann's agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.
McCann, who turns 30 in February, made seven All-Star appearances in his nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, and represents a major upgrade behind the plate for the Yankees, who cited financial inflexibility in not re-signing Russell Martin before the 2013 season. Martin signed a two-year, $17 milllion deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Yankees catchers batted .213 with an American League worst eight home runs.
The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and they followed that season with a spending spree that greatly aided a World Series title run in 2009. They hope to chart a similar course this winter.
That cause would be greatly aided by third baseman Alex Rodriguez serving at least a significant portion of the 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball for his alleged role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.
Rodriguez is due to make $25 million in 2013, but every game he's suspended would save the Yankees a pro-rated portion of his salary and perhaps let them add players and slip under baseball's $189 million payroll tax. Rodriguez's appeal of his suspension has concluded and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz is expected to rule on it by January.
Whether or not they gain some financial freedom with a Rodriguez suspension, the Yankees have many holes to fill. They need at least one outfielder - landing Carlos Beltran on a short-term deal would be ideal - and multiple starting pitchers, with part of that equation dependent upon right-hander Hiroki Kuroda's decision to return, retire or play in Japan. And there's the small matter of retaining All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, who figures to command a contract with a total value north of $180 million.