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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.

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.

Marc Rzepczynski signs two-year, $11 million contract with Mariners

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 9: Marc Rzepczynski #23 of the Washington Nationals looks on before pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning during game two of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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After rumors of the deal surfaced on Thursday, the Mariners officially signed veteran reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year, $11 million deal on Friday night. Per a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the lefty is due $5.5 million in 2017 and 2018.

The signing marks the left-hander’s fourth trade since July 2015. He bounced from the Indians to the Padres at the 2015 trade deadline, then to the Athletics in the offseason, then to the Nationals in late August of 2016. Last season, he pitched to a career-best 2.64 ERA during 47 2/3 innings with the Athletics and Nationals, but hit an all-time low with 5.5 BB/9 that fed into a 1.59 K/BB rate. While the 31-year-old’s split against right-handed batters are underwhelming (a career .277/.377/.431 line with 123 walks and 24 home runs), he’s held lefties to a respectable .222/.291/.298 line with just 52 walks and eight homers.

Adding Rzepczynski to the bullpen should check off another to-do item for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that the club is still likely to pursue an additional reliever and a No. 4 starter before the offseason comes to a close.