Yanks f lash cash: Mccann, Ells­bury are just the start

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

Brian McCann ar­rived at Yan­kee Sta­dium on Nov 19 and was greeted on the field by CC Sa­bathia and the pitcher’s kids.

McCann toured the op­u­lent club­house, then went to a ho­tel room ar­ranged by the team at the $695-andup Man­darin Ori­en­tal over­look­ing Cen­tral Park.

McCann merely had to take an el­e­va­tor down­stairs for a din­ner with man­ager Joe Gi­rardi and three other team ex­ec­u­tives at Porter House New York, a sleek steak restau­rant in the Time Warner Center, filled with cherry wood floors and leather seat­ing.

Four days later, he had a deal for a five-year con­tract worth $85 mil­lion, the start of a new spend­ing spree by the Yan­kees that also in­cludes a pend­ing seven-year, $153 mil­lion agree­ment with out­fielder Ja­coby Ells­bury.

“When the Yan­kees call you and then you go through the process that I went through, you leave blown away,” McCann said on Thurs­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at his new home ballpark.

“There’s a rea­son they’re the New York Yan­kees. You walk in here, ev­ery­thing’s big­ger. They put at­ten­tion to de­tail in ev­ery­thing. They make you feel the way that you want to feel.

“It was a per­fect fit for me and my fam­ily.”

While the Yan­kees are adding play­ers, they ap­pear less likely to re- sign Robin­son Cano.

New York be­lieves it may be out­bid by the Seat­tle Mariners for the All- Star sec­ond base­man, who at first sought a 10-year deal for more than $300 mil­lion.

“We’re still talk­ing, but ob­vi­ously we’re a de­cent dis­tance apart,” Yan­kees man­ag­ing gen­eral part­ner Hal Stein­bren­ner said.

Gen­eral man­ager Brian Cash­man met last month with Jay Z, go­ing to the of­fice of the rap mogul who is one of Cano’s agents.

“Our club has ne­go­ti­ated very hard with Robin­son Cano and has made fair of­fers to Robin­son Cano,” Gi­rardi said.

Him­self a for­mer Yan­kees catcher, Gi­rardi was ex­cited about up­grad­ing with McCann, a seven- time All­Star who joins a lineage that in­cludes Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, El­ston Howard, Thur­man Mun­son and Jorge Posada.

“We think we have the next great Yan­kee catcher here with us,” Gi­rardi said.

Cash­man went fur­ther, call­ing McCann “a po­ten­tial Hall of Famer.”

New York was 16th in the ma­jor leagues with 650 runs this year, its low­est rank­ing since 1991, ac­cord­ing to STATS. McCann and Ells­bury, who hope to ben­e­fit from Yan­kee Sta­dium’s short porch in right field, ap­pear to be just the start of an up­grade.

Ells­bury and Brett Gard­ner should help form a su­pe­rior de­fen­sive out­field.

“Th­ese guys are go­ing to cover a lot of ground,” Gi­rardi said.

“They both can put a lot of pres­sure on a pitcher when they’re on the basepa­ths with their abil­ity to go from first to third or first to home on a num­ber of base hits.”

As­sum­ing Ells­bury’s deal gets fi­nal­ized, New York’s lux­ury tax pay­roll will be about $138 mil­lion — start­ing to ap­proach the roughly $177 mil­lion for salaries un­der next year’s $189 mil­lion tax thresh­old.

The Yan­kees hope to get un­der the thresh­old — but that ap­pears un­likely un­less Alex Rodriguez is sus­pended for most or all of next sea­son — elim­i­nat­ing his $25 mil­lion salary.

“I think we can do it, but it’s not go­ing to come at the ex­pense of field­ing a good team,” Stein­bren­ner said.

“Right now we’re still un­der it. Right now, we’ve still got a de­cent amount of money to spend, quite frankly. And we’re go­ing to.

“We’re go­ing to put it back into the team the way we al­ways do.”

Cash­man said he thinks pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who turns 39 in Fe­bru­ary, wants to re­turn for a third sea­son with the Yan­kees.

Their ro­ta­tion is un­cer­tain be­hind Sa­bathia and Ivan Nova, and New York is in­ter­ested in Masahiro Tanaka if he is made avail­able by his Ja­panese club un­der a new post­ing sys­tem.

And while Gi­rardi says David Robert­son is the fa­vorite to take over as closer from Mar­i­ano Rivera, the Yan­kees need more re­liev­ers.

“We’re not done with pitch­ing, one way or the other. That’s for sure,” Stein­bren­ner said. “And we need another bat or two.”

KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IM­AGES/AFP

Brian McCann re­acts af­ter hit­ting a two-run homer for the At­lanta Braves against the San Diego Padres in Septem­ber. McCann, who be­came one of base­ball’s most cov­eted free agents last month, has signed a five-year con­tract with the New York Yan­kees that will pay him $85 mil­lion.

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