Washington Nationals Trade Target: Brian McCann

Could the Washington Nationals trade for Yankees catcher Brian McCann this winter?

With Wilson Ramos having ACL surgery, the Washington Nationals will likely be looking for a new catcher this offseason. They have Pedro Severino on the roster, but will Severino be ready to play everyday at the next level? If the Nats don’t feel he is, they will need to look either to free agency or via a trade for their 2017 catcher.

Should the Washington Nationals decide to go to the trade market, one name to think about is Yankees catcher Brian McCann. McCann has two more guaranteed years left on his deal with a team option for 2019 ($15 million). In addition, he has a full no-trade clause in his contract.

Right now, the Yankees are looking to get younger as an organization. Gary Sanchez had a great second half and took over the starting catcher spot from McCann. Plus, New York has two other catchers in Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka. So, where does that leave McCann in the big picture? Last week, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that the Washington Nationals are one of the teams that would be a good fit for the catcher that will be 33 next season:

In 130 games this past season, McCann had a slash line of .242/.335/.413 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI’s. While he hit 20+ home runs for the ninth consecutive season, the 58 RBI’s were the second lowest he had in any season in which he has played 100+ games (57 with the Braves in 2013).

McCann would bring the power to the lineup that the Nats will be missing without Ramos. But, McCann struck out 20 more times last season than Ramos (99 to 79). If you go by WAR, McCann’s 0.9 WAR in 2016 was the third lowest of his career (according to Baseball Reference).

On defense, McCann threw out over 35% of baserunners trying steal in 2014 and 2015. This season, that percentage dropped off to 23% in 92 games behind the plate. His defensive runs saved went from 0 in 2015 to -7 in 2016 (according to Fangraphs).

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Right now, McCann is a hitter that relies mainly on hitting the long ball. Although his home runs were pretty much even in terms of home/road splits, his power does benefit from the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Plus, it’s hard to ignore that the shift opposing defenses have put on him has affected his overall production.

If the Yankees were to take on some of the money for McCann, I think this deal would make sense for the Washington Nationals. McCann may not be a good defensive catcher, but the seven-time All-Star can be another power bat in this lineup. Don’t be surprised if the Nats can find a way to make a deal with the Yankees over the winter, should McCann waive his no-trade to come to D.C.

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