I know, this is probably as likely to happen as my Noles getting a chance to play for the national championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide but I am going to go ahead and state it anyway. The Marlins should be bold and sign Brian McCann.
Estimates are that McCann is going to be looking for a 6 year, $100M deal. The Marlins have done that before (see Jose Reyes) and despite all of the belly-aching, they could do it again here. Of course there are severe handicaps for the Marlins – McCann would likely not want to sign here because of the Marlins’ past track record.
That said, this could be a great marriage. McCann is a veteran leader who is respected around the league. If you can recall Jose Fernandez’ home run during his last start of the season, it was McCann who tried to diffuse the situation by speaking to Fernandez at home plate. Fernandez would later go on to say McCann tried to give him some advice and spoke to him “like a father” and even though Fernandez was heated at Chris Johnson’s douchebaggery, he heeded McCann’s advice.
If a guy can talk to your phenom ace pitcher while he is heated and playing on the other team, you can bet he could work wonders in your own clubhouse. You think Fernandez is going to shake off signs from McCann? And if you have Fernandez on board, you have the rest of the pitching staff on board.
McCann would give the Marlins a significant upgrade in not only leadership but in helping to develop this young staff. He would be like a quarterback on the field that would mirror Mike Redmond’s philosophy. He could be that voice that crystalizes things on the field for this team. He not only would play great defense, call a good game, but also would supply plenty of punch offensively to help boost an anemic offense.
What would McCann do with Giancarlo Stanton behind him? What would McCann do for Stanton hitting in front of him? You already could plug in his offense and see a drastic improvement and in a park with the spacious dimensions like Marlins Park, McCann would excel hitting balls to the gaps and driving in runs.
Not since Pudge Rodriguez would the Marlins have a significant leader at the backstop position that everyone on the roster could respect. Not to mention, if you land McCann, you get instant credibility from the rest of the league. Others may be willing to overlook the Marlins recent past to consider a new direction for this team behind McCann’s credibility. You change the perception of the team and help garner strong support from the rest of the league and definitely get the attention of the fans.
You also add by subtraction – McCann would no longer be on the Braves’ roster and would significantly weaken their claim for the NL East title. You now force the Braves to find a way to replace his bat and leadership. You also do so without having to trade away your growing group of young talent. Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony Descalfani are now safe and could factor into a very bright future at the big league level instead of having to cash in two or three of them just to upgrade the offense. That provides years of more depth at the bump and if you decided to let an established starter leave because their contracts were getting too high, you could do that and reload.
McCann provides an identity for this team. He also would garner the respect of a young gun like Jose Fernandez and you can bet Giancarlo Stanton would see things very differently with a veteran presence like McCann in the clubhouse. This would set up very nicely for a long term transition and success.
What about McCann’s 6 year deal? Will he have to play catcher the entire time? No. He could transition to 1B while you find a solution for catcher in the meantime. Maybe Rob Brantly is the future – playing behind McCann would give him more time to mature and refine his skills and even lengthen his career. Then when the team is ready, McCann is moved to 1B – you still get his leadership and offense and truthfully, could his defense be any worse than Logan Morrison’s? You also now have a future plan for 1B – you can simply employ a 2 year stop gap measure in the meantime while you put McCann behind the plate and move him to 1B to round out his contract.
You gain leadership, identity, a very strong offensive and defensive upgrade, and possibly someone who can provide strong direction to a young and talented pitching staff. You stabilize the franchise in a way that has never been done at any point in the Marlins’ existence and it only costs around $100M. This would be a bargain at about $16.7M per season. You add by subtraction, the Braves will miss his bat and leadership. You will have a much more convincing argument to retain Stanton long term, but also Jose Fernandez, too. The kid is the face of this franchise and loves the city and his team. If you land McCann, you give him a mentor that can also help him bridge the gap form one year phenom to successful major league career.
But this would be doing something right for a franchise that has managed to do so many things wrong. And why would McCann sign? If you match the top dollar, you would have to throw in a no-trade clause – something the Marlins have historically never done. Something though that they would have to do in order to land the top free agents again; something they would have to do to assure McCann that he has control over his career. He would be cued up for financial success and put in a position to compete and win. He would have Jose Fernandez to play catch with every 5th day. McCann would become an anchor and help pivot this franchise back towards mattering. Jeffrey Loria’s legacy would change very quickly. The Marlins would be saying they made the long term commitment, in a very tangible way, to their fans and to winning. Things would be able to turn around.
All it would take would be signing a contract for $100M, something the Marlins, despite their cries of poverty, could easily do. It would also be eerily similar to the move the Marlins made 10 years ago, when they took a chance on an aging catcher who was among the best in the game but fears about durability surfaced. With McCann, you get the added bonus that he could play 1B – and the Red Sox did just that with Mike Napoli this past year and look how that turned out for them. Be bold, Marlins, and go out and campaign hard for McCann and sign him.