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.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.