Brian McCann calls his first half season with the Yankees “horrible”

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Brian McCann has been one of the biggest free agent busts of the offseason so far, hitting just .221 with a .642 OPS in 74 games for the Yankees after seven-time All-Star catcher hit .277 with an .823 OPS in nine seasons for the Braves.

To his credit McCann hasn’t pulled any punches in assessing his own performance in the first season of a five-year, $85 million contract, telling Brendan Kuty of the Newark Star Ledger:

Horrible. Hitting–you know, I feel good behind the plate. But swinging the bat, I need to get better. We’ve just got to keep grinding. I’ve got faith in myself and I think we’ll swing the bats better.

McCann hit poorly in April and May, but June was his worst month with a .198 batting average and .580 OPS.

No one should have expected McCann to collapse so suddenly at age 30, especially since he was one of the better-hitting catchers in baseball last season in Atlanta, but back in November our own Matthew Pouliot did break down why McCann was a poor bet to age well into his thirties and our own Bill Baer analyzed why calling Yankee Stadium home wasn’t going to boost McCann’s power numbers quite as much as many people expected.

Of course, the Yankees talked about how they signed McCann for his Thurman Munson-like intensity behind the plate and … well, that hasn’t changed any (and he’s thrown out a career-high 45 percent of steal attempts, at least). And now they owe him $17 million per season through 2018.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.