Brian McCann returning to the Atlanta Braves

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KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 16: Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros celebrates scoring during a three run home run hit by Alex Bregman #2 against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves have been in the market for another catcher this off-season, and it appears the team has its man. After much speculation surrounding a potential trade for J.T. Realmuto, the team announced Monday that Brian McCann is returning to Atlanta. McCann previously played with the club from 2005-13 before signing with the New York Yankees.

The Braves announced it was a one-year deal worth $2 million:

Brian McCann returning to the Atlanta Braves

Background

There was a lot of noise this off-season that the Braves would pursue Realmuto via trade. Unfortunately, obtaining Realmuto from the Miami Marlins would have likely required a massive trade package. Atlanta could still pursue the top-tier catcher, but it now looks like the Braves will roll with McCann and Tyler Flowers for the 2019 season.

First Stop

McCann was a longtime fan-favorite during his first nine years in Atlanta. He was a seven-time All-Star with the Braves and captured five Silver Slugger Awards. McCann slashed .279/.351/.475 while averaging 20 home runs, 27 doubles, 122 hits, 53 runs scored, and 76 RBI for Atlanta.

His best year came in 2006 when he slashed .333/.388/.572 with 24 homers, 34 doubles, 61 runs scored, and 93 RBI in 130 games. McCann was truly the premier offensive catcher during his first run with the Braves with many wondering if he could produce a Hall of Fame resume.

American League Stint

Unfortunately for McCann, injuries have hindered his performance over the past five seasons. He did appear in at least 130 games with the Yankees each season from 2014-16, but McCann has not played in more than 97 games in a season since. Over five AL seasons with the Yankees and Houston Astros, McCann has averaged 19 home runs, 12 doubles, and 50 runs scored. The biggest drop has come in his slash line with numbers of .234/.314/.414 since the start of 2014. He was a key leader on Houston’s 2017 World Series team, but his offense is a far cry from what it once was.

What He Brings to the Table

Though not the offensive player he used to be, McCann is still well-respected as a leader and game-caller across Major League Baseball. That is reflected in Ken Rosenthal’s report that McCann turned down more lucrative offers to return to Atlanta:

McCann may not be the offensive force he once was. However, teaming up with Flowers will give the Braves a left-right platoon combination of two catchers respected for how they deal with pitchers. It is no secret that Atlanta has a loaded team and farm system of young arms, and McCann and Flowers look to play a big role in the development of those pitchers.

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