Brian McCann had a disappointing first season with the Yankees, hitting just .232 with a career-low .692 OPS in 140 games after signing a five-year, $85 million contract.
He’s an extreme pull hitter and teams shifted a ton against McCann, who told MLB Network that he’s “definitely going to change my approach a little bit” next season in an effort to combat the shifts.
I think there’s definitely times to bunt. Maybe leading off the inning down four or five runs or [with a] man on first, no outs, try to start a rally. But, you know, as far as hitting the ball the other way, that’s something I’ve definitely done going into spring training and then a month into the season you look up and you sacrifice power and driving the baseball. Or at least I do. That’s the line I have to walk. I’ve hit a certain way for a long, long time.
It’s certainly valid for a good hitter to worry about his overall production declining if he were to change his approach trying to beat shifts, but when you’re coming off a season in which you got on base just 28 percent of the time working on laying down some bunts and slapping the ball down the third base line seems like a pretty reasonable change.
We already know Russell Martin will turn down the $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Pirates and previously reports have said the Cubs are the front-runners to sign him. And now Jeff Blair of Sportsnet Canada says the free agent catcher “wants a contract worth between $75-$80 million over five years.”
Brian McCann got a five-year, $85 million deal from the Yankees last offseason. Martin is a couple years older than McCann was then and failed to top a .750 OPS from 2009-2013, but he’s coming off a fantastic season in which he hit .290 with a .402 on-base percentage and .832 OPS in 111 games.
Former Rookie of the Year winner Jeremy Hellickson’s time in Tampa Bay appears to be over, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Rays “are moving closer” to trading him to an unnamed National League team.
Sherman says a deal will probably happen this week.
Hellickson was a top prospect, won the Rookie of the Year in 2011 as a 24-year-old, and followed it up with an equally strong 2012 season. But it’s been all downhill from there.
He posted a 5.17 ERA in 31 starts two seasons ago and then underwent offseason elbow surgery, returning in July to go 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA in 13 starts this season. He’s still just 27 years old, but Hellickson has a 5.00 ERA in his last 238 innings and his career strikeout rate is 6.5 per nine innings.
As the Yankees look for a Derek Jeter replacement Joel Sherman of the New York Post has an interesting name to consider, reporting that Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus “has the Yankees intrigued.”
Of course, Andrus has an eight-year, $120 million contract that doesn’t even start until 2015.
Texas might be willing to trade him, however, because his performance has stagnated and they have potential replacements in Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar.
The question would be whether Andrus’ market value has declined to the point that the Rangers would have to eat some of his contract to get a trade done or if he still has enough value to fetch a decent return along with the high salaries through 2022.
Andrus hit just .267 with six homers and a .653 OPS in 313 games during the past two seasons and both his defense and baserunning showed signs of decline this year at age 25. Do the Yankees want to be paying him $15 million per season through age 34?
Former stud prospect Jeremy Hermida spent all of this season playing at Triple-A for the Brewers’ affiliate and he’s re-signed with Milwaukee on another minor-league deal.
Hermida is 31 years old now, so any thoughts of him re-emerging as a star in the majors are long gone, but setting aside his prospect hype he posted a reasonable .749 OPS in 632 games as a big leaguer.
This year at Triple-A he had an .826 OPS with 16 homers and 62 walks in 108 games, so he’s a nice player to have around as organizational depth. Not quite what everyone had in mind when Hermida ranked as a top-30 prospect by Baseball America in three straight seasons, including No. 4 overall in 2006.