Brian McCann returning to Braves on 1-year, $2 million deal

Brian McCann is returning to where it all started.

The Braves agreed to a one-year contract with the veteran catcher on Monday afternoon, presumably pairing him with Tyler Flowers for the 2019 season. The deal is worth $2 million.

“This is a day that I didn’t know would happen when I left in 2013,” McCann said. “This is as special of a day for me as any I’ve had in my career.”

McCann spent the past five seasons with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, winning one Silver Slugger Award and a 2017 World Series ring. Over that span, he’s hit .234/.314/.414 with 94 home runs in 565 games played.

Last season, McCann hit 18 percent below league average but his left-handed bat provides more of a true platoon situation for the lefty Flowers, though Kurt Suzuki’s production will be difficult to replicate. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos also mentioned McCann’s ability to help lead a young roster as a key reason behind the signing.

“I firmly believe, and I’ve seen it, certain players make other players around them better,” Anthopoulos said. “And it’s hard to have that show up on a stat sheet but I’ve seen it over the years. I’ve learned it as a young GM.

“He’s gonna make players better. That may be shaving a little bit off an ERA or helping someone’s approach at the plate or just having them not go down the wrong path or being a good teammate. … The respect that he’s going to carry in that room and the fact that he cares about this place so much, about the community, about Atlanta, about the Braves, it’s hard to quantify that.”

McCann previously spent nine years in Atlanta in which he was arguably the National League’s best all-around catcher. From 2005 to 2013, only Joe Mauer posted a higher WAR among catchers as McCann made seven All-Star appearances and won five Silver Slugger Awards.

By spending only $2 million to address their vacant catching spot, the Braves will be able to aim even higher at other positions (like adding Josh Donaldson for $23 million) as they attempt to build off last year’s division title run.

“From a financial standpoint it fit in a lot of ways and it allowed us to do some other things that we plan on doing as well,” Anthopoulos said.

The Braves designated minor-league arm Ricardo Sanchez for assignment to open up a spot on the 40-man roster.

McCann will wear his former No. 16 after calling new teammate Charlie Culberson for permission on Monday. The 34-year-old catcher stated he’s “100 percent” healthy and that he’s back to win his second World Series ring — this time with the hometown club that made him a second-round draft pick back in 2002.

“To win another championship,” McCann said when asked why the Braves were a good fit aside from the homecoming. “We’re talking about a team that won 90-plus game knocking on the door for big things. That’s a big reason.”