Yanks flash cash: McCann, Ellsbury just the start

Brian McCann arrived at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 19 and was

greeted on the field by CC Sabathia and the pitcher’s kids.

McCann toured the opulent clubhouse, then went to a hotel room

arranged by the team at the $695-and-up Mandarin Oriental

overlooking Central Park. McCann merely had to take an elevator

downstairs for a dinner with manager Joe Girardi and three other

team executives at Porter House New York, a sleek steak restaurant

in the Time Warner Center, filled with cherry wood floors and

leather seating.

Four days later, he had a deal for an $85 million, five-year

contract, the start of a new spending spree by the Yankees that

also includes a pending $153 million, seven-year agreement with

outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

”When the Yankees call you and then you go through the process

that I went through, you leave blown away,” McCann said Thursday

during a news conference at his new home ballpark. ”There’s a

reason that they’re the New York Yankees. You walk in here,

everything’s bigger. They put attention to detail with everything.

They make you feel the way that you want to feel.”

”It was,” he added, ”a perfect fit.”

While the Yankees are adding players, they appear less likely to

re-sign Robinson Cano. New York believes it may be outbid by the

Seattle Mariners for the All-Star second baseman, who at first

sought a 10-year deal for more than $300 million.

”We’re still talking, but obviously we’re a decent distance

apart,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner

said.

General manager Brian Cashman met last month with Jay Z, going

to the office of the rap mogul who is one of Cano’s agents.

”Our club has negotiated very hard with Robinson Cano and has

made fair offers to Robinson Cano,” Girardi said.

Himself a former Yankees catcher, Girardi was excited about

upgrading with McCann, a seven-time All-Star who joins a lineage

that includes Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman

Munson and Jorge Posada.

”We think we have the next great Yankee catcher here with us,”

Girardi said.

Cashman went further, calling McCann ”a potential Hall of

Famer.”

New York was 16th in the major leagues with 650 runs this year,

its lowest ranking since 1991, according to STATS. McCann and

Ellsbury, who hope to benefit from Yankee Stadium’s short porch in

right field, appear to be just the start of an upgrade.

Ellsbury and Brett Gardner should help form a superior defensive

outfield.

”These guys are going to cover a lot of ground,” Girardi said.

”They both can put a lot of pressure on a pitcher when they’re on

the basepaths, and their ability to go from first to third or first

to home on a number of base hits.”

Assuming Ellsbury’s deal gets finalized, New York’s luxury tax

payroll will be about $138 million – starting to approach the

roughly $177 million for salaries under next year’s $189 million

tax threshold. The Yankees hope to get under the threshold – but

that appears unlikely unless Alex Rodriguez is suspended for most

or all of next season – eliminating his $25 million salary.

”I think we can do it, but it’s not going to come at the

expense of fielding a good team,” Steinbrenner said. ”Right now

we’re still under it. Right now, we’ve still got a decent amount of

money to spend, quite frankly. And we’re going to. We’re going to

put it back into the team the way we always do.”

Cashman said he thinks pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who turns 39 in

February, wants to return for a third season with the Yankees.

Their rotation is uncertain behind Sabathia and Ivan Nova, and New

York is interested in Masahiro Tanaka if he is made available by

his Japanese club under a new posting system. And while Girardi

says David Robertson is the favorite to take over as closer from

Mariano Rivera, the Yankees need more relievers.

”We’re not done with pitching, one way or the other. That’s for

sure,” Steinbrenner said. ”And we need another bat or two.”

McCann said the Yankees made him feel extremely wanted during

his quick tour last month, and the dinner stretched on for three

hours. Girardi and the 29-year-old catcher were joined by team

President Randy Levine, Cashman, assistant general manager Billy

Eppler and B.B. Abbott, the catcher’s agent.

McCann beamed during the news conference as wife Ashley looked

on along with their two young children and other relatives.

McCann wore No. 16 with the Braves, but that number has been

retired by the Yankees in honor of Whitey Ford. McCann is switching

to No. 34 because it was used by friends Eric O’Flaherty and Derek

Lowe on the Braves.

Cashman presented No. 34 onesies jerseys for son Colt, born in

July 2012, and daughter Colbie, born in September.

”There’s a lot of numbers retired here. It’s slim pickings,”

McCann said. ”I only had like four, five to choose from.”