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SAN FRANCISCO – Our offseason “pros and cons” series continues with a look at one of the most dependable home run hitters on the free-agent market, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann.
Should the Giants target McCann? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:
McCann is a metronome when it comes to hitting home runs. He has smacked at least 20 in each of the past six seasons. His left-handed bat would fit nicely in between Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in the Giants lineup, and manager Bruce Bochy is a known admirer – and not just for that double in the 2010 All-Star Game that gave the Giants home-field advantage in the World Series.
All the usual caveats apply about left-handed power translating to AT&T Park, and McCann is a station-to-station runner. I’ve talked to more than one scout, though, who believe that McCann’s power might translate to San Francisco better than most because he tends to loft high flies down the line. For all the wind and the bricks out there, it’s still just 309 feet to the right field pole.
McCann is a polished and experienced catcher whose presence would allow the Giants to move Posey to first base full-time (or even third base if Pablo Sandoval leaves as a free agent after the 2014 season). Given the way Posey appeared to get worn down last season, moving the 2012 NL MVP and batting champ to a less stressful position could be smart in the nearer term.
Sources tell me the Giants, while open-minded to improving their lineup in any possible way, do not feel any urgency to move Posey to a corner infield spot. Their analysis is that his second-half swoon might have been more mental exhaustion than the physical toll of catching. He’d never been part of a losing environment before and it’s not easy to stay mentally sharp when you’re playing out the string for the first time. (He’s got twin toddlers at home too, don’t forget.) If Posey is catching, that means the Giants would sign McCann to play first base – where he’s never played before – and they’d move Brandon Belt to left field. The Giants might be willing to move some parts to improve their lineup, but not if it means taking massive defensive risks.
[RELATED: Twins moving Joe Mauer to first base]
McCann didn’t take any nonsense from the Dodgers in the NL Division series, speaking up about the lack of respect from players who admire their home runs a little too long. So … the thought of a McCann-led Giants team taking on Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers 19 times? Who wouldn’t want to see that?
McCann is from Georgia and probably would require a premium to sign with a West Coast team. The Giants also would have to compete with a team like the Texas Rangers, who could offer that extra year or two with little hesitation because there’s a designated hitter job they’ll need to fill down the road. McCann would cost the Giants their first-round pick (14th overall), too.
It’s a nice thought to envision McCann catching fellow take-no-guff competitors like Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner for years to come. But it would require too much of a sacrifice, both in terms of dollars and the draft pick, for a player that would require two new teammates to play out of position. Kick the tires, but probably pass.
Seems even Jon Heyman’s dry cleaner is predicting McCann will go to the Rangers, so who am I to disagree? Expect something close to Hunter Pence’s contract -- five years and $90 million.