Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann has been one of the best catchers in the game for the past decade. He has proved it time and time again. McCann believes the game of baseball should be played the right way, with respect. When he sees someone disrespect the game and his teammates, he doesn’t hesitate to let them know to knock it off.
On Wednesday night, Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers hit a mammoth homerun off Braves’ pitcher Paul Maholm. Gomez stared at the pitch for a second, then started to trot down the line, but not without barking at Maholm. Gomez proceeded to prance around the bases at a slow and steady pace, getting into it with the Braves’ infielders, most notably first baseman Freddie Freeman.
McCann witnessed all of this from behind the plate, he did not like it one bit. As Gomez rounded third heading for home, he was greeted by McCann before he reached the plate. The visibly irate McCann let Gomez know that he shouldn’t have done that. This caused the benches to be cleared and a brawl ensued. Gomez, Freeman and Atlanta first base coach Terry Pendleton were all ejected for their roles in the altercation.
This wasn’t the first time this season McCann has defended the integrity of the game and his team this season. In a game earlier in the season against the Florida Marlins, McCann once again took offense to antics pulled after a homerun was hit. Marlins’ rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez started things off by smiling after Evan Gattis of the Braves hit a homerun off of him. As he walked off the mound that inning, he stared directly at the Atlanta bench and was muttering. Shortly after that occurred, Fernandez hit his first career homerun and showboated his way around the bases. Chris Johnson, the third baseman had words with Fernandez as he rounded third base. Once he crossed home plate, it was McCann’s turn to confront the young pitcher.
The benches cleared like they normally would and the two teams exchanged words. Fernandez was in the middle of it all with that smile on his face again. After the game, his tune had changed. He was embarrassed by the way he behaved and found McCann to apologize. The veteran catcher simply said to him “Hey, man, you’re a kid but you’re in the big leagues. You need to do what big leaguers do. “
The Braves won the National League East division crown and will look to make a playoff run in hopes to win the World Series. McCann has been a big part of the team’s success this season. The biggest question surrounding McCann now is whether or not the Braves will resign him in the offseason. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season is over. This is one of many financial decisions the Braves will have to make as pitchers Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, and Scott Downs will be unrestricted free agents like McCann. Then they have players such as Freeman, Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson and other key role players who will be entering arbitration after next season. Will the Braves be willing to spend the money?
McCann has been considered one of the top three catchers in the league for the past few seasons. Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is the highest paid catcher at $23 million a year. Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals is the second highest paid catcher, earning $14.2 million a year. Will the Braves decide that McCann is worth a top-three catcher contract? He has had a bounce back 2013 season after being hampered by injuries during the 2012 campaign. After starting the season on the disabled list, McCann was back to being his usual self. He is currently batting .256 with 20 homeruns and 57 RBIs and an OBP of .337. McCann has been the heart and soul of this Braves team for quite a few years now, consistently providing big hits for the Braves.
If McCann can have a big postseason by helping lead the Braves to a World Series title, the answer to whether or not he should be resigned becomes a no-brainer. The Braves have the potential to win it all and their chances only increase if McCann is playing well.
The answer might not be entirely up to the Braves’ front office. It is possible that McCann could look to join an American League team, so he can have the opportunity to DH to prolong his career. McCann is a native of Athens, Georgia, so there is a chance that he could give the Braves the home-town discount if he wants to end his career with Atlanta. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out for the Braves and McCann.