Atlanta Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann becomes a free agent at the end of the 2013 season and there is no guarantee the Braves are willing to re-sign him. However, the Braves need to make a priority of bringing the Atlanta native McCann back for at least the 2014 campaign.
He debuted with Atlanta in 2005 and has been selected to represent the Braves in seven All-Star games in his first eight full seasons in the majors.
Retaining McCann has nothing to do with the fact that he is a native of Atlanta or that he is a fan favorite. McCann can still hit and he can still handle his catching duties.
In addition to his offensive and defensive prowess, McCann is team leader and his presence in the clubhouse represents an intangible benefit for the Braves.
Although McCann has spent time on the disabled list the past three seasons, he remains one of the top catchers in baseball. Since rejoining the Braves on May 6, one full month into the season, he has slugged seventeen home runs, second among all Major League catchers.
And his .506 slugging percentage is tops among all active catchers with at least 75 games played this season.
With Atlanta's top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt waiting in the wings, the Braves cannot afford to let the 29 year old McCann sign elsewhere. McCann understands how to manage a game from behind the plate and would serve as a mentor for the youngster Bethancourt.
And finally the subject of loyalty.
Loyalty does not exist in sports today. Yankees sign with the Red Sox. Packers sign with the Vikings. Former all-star Chipper Jones proved their can be loyalty after spending his entire nineteen year career with the Braves. McCann deserves to have the same opportunity as Jones to finalize his career in a Braves uniform.
Re-signing Brian McCann is the right thing for Atlanta to do. McCann earned $12 million during 2013 and they have the money to pay him next season. And the Braves will reap the benefits for years to come.
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