On November 18th, we said that we’d sign Brian McCann for 5 years in the $80-$83 million dollar range. We came very close, as multiple sources are reporting the Yankees have signed him to a 5 year / $85 million deal, with a 6th-year vesting option. Hey, maybe we do know what we’re talking about sometimes?!

Based on today’s free agent prices and McCann’s expected production, this is actually a pretty decent deal for all parties. Can you believe we just said that?? The Yankees front office offered a contract that is in the ballpark of a player’s actual and future value. Miracles do happen.

After the club willingly downgraded at catcher prior to the 2013 season, McCann obviously represents a huge upgrade heading into 2014. Here’s what we wrote back on the 18th:

The offensive exploits of the 29-year old are well known. He’s a career .277/.350/.473 hitter (117 wRC+). For comparison, Jorge Posada was a career .273/.374/.474 (123 wRC+).

After playing with an injured shoulder in 2012, which resulted in a career-worst campaign of .230/.300/.399 (87 wRC+), McCann rebounded in 2013 by hitting .256/.336/.461 (122 wRC+). He only had 402 PA due to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, but he still managed nearly 3 WAR — according to Fangraphs.

Defensively, McCann is below-average in throwing out basestealers with a 24% CS rate versus the 28% MLB average since entering the league. However, he grades out positively in pitch-blocking and pitch-framing. Even though catching metrics are still works in progress, it’s safe to say McCann isn’t a liability behind the plate.

Overall, if McCann can get close to 500 PA over the course of a season, he’s going to be worth at least 3 WAR, and that’s probably a low estimate for the next couple years (in his age 30 & 31 seasons). In 2011, McCann had 527 PA and was worth 3.9 WAR.

Again, huge upgrade and on relatively fair contract.

We have two big questions though:

1. Is this the first in a series of moves designed to put the Yankees in contention in 2014? They need many more upgrades because they’re starting from a true base of a sub-.500 team.

2. Or, does Hal plan on signing a couple big names so he can say “LOOK, WE’RE COMMITTED TO A CHAMPIONSHIP” and put butts in the seats — all while staying under the Hal-Cap™ and reaping the profits?

If it’s the latter, the Yankees will be thrust further into mediocrity and they just gave up their first round draft pick to do so.

The next couple months will reveal the answer.