McCann confident in Yankees' rotation
Front office planning to add another starter to mix
NEW YORK -- The Yankees' offseason shopping list, as outlined by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, has prioritized adding another starting pitcher to supplement Masahiro Tanaka's expected return to the ace role.
Brian McCann leaves the Hot Stove moving and shaking to those in charge of making such decisions, but the catcher said that he has confidence in the staff as comprised.
"I think we've got a lot of depth," McCann said in a telephone conversation. "You get [Ivan] Nova back, second year off of Tommy John, which usually is the year that pitchers start feeling a lot better off that surgery. You've got [Luis] Severino.
"[Nathan] Eovaldi took huge steps forward and I think his ceiling is as high as it gets. [Michael] Pineda is filthy. CC [Sabathia], pitching with that new knee brace and being able to drive and get through the ball and work both sides of the plate, was huge. We like where our rotation is at and we like our team. We're excited about going into next season."
Steinbrenner said at last week's Owners Meetings that another starter is "something we're certainly going to look at," while noting his team appears "fairly strong" at all other positions. In addition to the previously named six pitchers, the Yanks project to have Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell competing for starting roles in the spring.
McCann, 31, was honored with his sixth career Silver Slugger Award earlier this month after leading all Major League catchers with 26 homers and tying a career high with a team-leading 94 RBIs, batting .232.
"I had some good moments and I had some bad moments," McCann said. "I had some ups and downs, and for the most part I was happy with the way that I played. I wasn't happy with the way I finished, I wasn't happy with my September, but I've got to go back into this offseason and prepare and get ready for next year."
He said that he had mixed feelings about the Yankees trading backup catcher John Ryan Murphy, who was dealt to the Twins earlier this month in exchange for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks.
"Murph is a special player, a special talent," McCann said. "I know the Yankees have been taking calls on him for a long time now. He's an All-Star-caliber player, calls one of the better games that you're going to watch and we became super close. He gets to go to the Twins and play a lot more and start, so I'm happy for him on one hand, and on the other hand I'm going to miss him a lot."
The Twins plan to give Murphy a crack at their starting catcher job, and McCann said that he believes Murphy is ready for that.
"One hundred percent. His mental makeup is off the charts," McCann said. "I could sit here and talk to you for an hour about him. He does so many things right. He approaches the game the right way. He cares. He does everything that you want in a starting catcher, he has."
McCann said that he has a good relationship with Yankees coach Tony Pena, who will once again handle the catching instruction, but McCann spoke highly of Gary Tuck's influence. Crediting Tuck's mechanical tweaks and drills, McCann caught 26 of 76 potential basestealers in 2015, the fifth-lowest percentage in the Majors.
"What he taught me, I'll forever be grateful," McCann said. "He taught me things that I didn't even know existed. I always thought I was just going to throw out around 20 percent and that was going to be it. He took that and changed a lot of things that I did, and turned me into an above-average thrower. I'm going to miss him a lot."