Yankees, Brian McCann agree to five-year, $85 million deal

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UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees and McCann have reached agreement on a deal, pending a physical.

McCann will get five years and $85 million with a vesting option for a sixth year which could bring the total to $100 million. His $17 million AAV (average annual value) is the highest-ever for a catcher signed via free agency. The Twins’ Joe Mauer has a $24 million AAV, but it was part of an extension.

The Yankees still have Robinson Cano to worry about and spots in the rotation to fill, so one wonders whether keeping their payroll $189 million next season is still a goal. Of course, the Yankees would get significant savings if A-Rod’s 211-game suspension is upheld, but we may not know the answer to that until after the holidays.

5:41 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal now reports that the Yankees and McCann are close to a five-year deal worth more than $80 million.

5:25 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that the Yankees and McCann remain in “serious” discussions, but that a deal is not yet close. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman is reporting the same.

5:17 p.m. ET: According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Brian McCann is on the verge of signing a long-term contract with the Yankees.

McCann was also being courted by the Rangers, but Grant was told by two sources that the free agent catcher has ruled them out as an option. While one source tells Grant that a deal with the Yankees is close, naturally McCann’s agent declined to confirm that anything is imminent.

Landing McCann would obviously be huge for the Yankees, who had a miserable .213/.289/.298 batting line from their catchers this past season after they let Russell Martin walk. Only the Blue Jays, Mariners, White Sox, and Marlins had a worse OPS than the Yankees (.587) at the position.

McCann returned from shoulder surgery to hit .256/.336/.461 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI over 102 games this year. He has amassed at least 20 home runs in each of the last six seasons and seven out of the last eight. He’ll turn 30 years old in February. The Braves extended a qualifying offer to McCann before he hit free agency, so the Yankees would have to surrender their first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in order to sign him.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.