Friday, March 2, 2012

What Yadier Molina and History Means for Brian McCann

Yesterday it was announced that the St. Louis Cardinals, and Yadier Molina agreed to a 5 year extension, that will pay him $75 million dollars. After the 2013 season Brian McCann is expected hit the free agent market. When he does he will be 30 years old. Based on the contract that Molina received, what kind of contract could Brian McCann expect?

Since 2009 Brian McCann has been the second best catcher in baseball, accumulating 14 WAR, only 1 WAR behind Joe Mauer. While he's a good defensive catcher, he's known much more for his offensive production. Since 2009 he's ranked third in catcher ISO, fourth in wRC+, sixth in BB%, and tenth in K%. Even with his really good power, he's able to maintain good place discipline. In order to get a big contract in 2013 McCann will have to have a couple of big seasons though.

When Mike Piazza signed his 7 year contract for $91 million dollars following the 1998 season it was the richest contract for a catcher in major league history. During the 1998 season Mike Piazza led all catchers in wRC+, was second in ISO, OBP, and led in WAR, amassing 6.9 WAR. At the time of his contract he was 30 years old, and during the contract he had four seasons where he had at least 4 WAR. Overall he had 24.7 WAR, and averaged 3.5 WAR. Overall it ended up being a pretty fair deal for both sides.

In 2010 Joe Mauer topped Mike Piazza's contract, and signed an 8 year deal worth $184 million dollars. Joe Mauer is widely recognized as either the best catcher in baseball, or the second best depending on who you talk to. Mauer signed his deal after a 5.5 WAR season, and going into his age 28 season. The deal doesn't kick in until this year so we'll wait and see how it turns out. In the end McCann shouldn't expect that much money though.

Going back to Yadier Molina we can see that he had the best season of his career (4.7 WAR) posting career highs in ISO, OBP, and wRC+ as well. He's not likely to repeat his .160 ISO, but his OBP is. Defensively he's rated as the best catcher in baseball, his arm strength, accuracy, and release point are phenomenal. His 5 year, $75 million dollar deal was definitely deserved.

Contract wise he's somewhere in between Mike Piazza and Yadier Molina. He's a better offensive producer than Molina, but not quite as good as Piazza. Originally I thought a 6 year deal worth $100 million would be a fair price, but something like 5 year deal worth $85 million is certainly plausible. There are a couple of factors that will have to fall into place, and it will be interesting to see if the Braves would be willing to pay a large amount of money for Brian McCann.

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