Atlanta Braves Sign Catcher Brian McCann To Six-Year Extension

Is Outfielder Jeff Francoeur Next?

Thursday, March 22, 2007 - by Tim Evearitt
The Braves made certain that the native Atlantan would be with the team a  very long time.

<i>Click to enlarge photo.</i>
The Braves made certain that the native Atlantan would be with the team a very long time. Click to enlarge photo.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

Late Thursday morning, Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann agreed to terms on a six-year, $27.8 million contract extension with McCann that includes an option for the 2013 season.

According to McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott, there are escalators that could take the value of the contract to $29.8 million.

With this being the case, the Braves have presented their 23-year-old catcher with the most money ever included in a contract extension given to a player with less than two years of service.

Despite the fact that Atlanta has never offered a long-term deal to any player until they've completed their arbitration-eligible years, the Braves began contract-extension negotiations with both McCann and outfielder Jeff Francoeur at the beginning of March.

But since initial discussions began, Francoeur and his agent Steve Hammond haven't been able to reach an agreement. It is believed that they countered with an offer that was nearly double what the Braves had originally offered.

As for McCann and Abbott, they came back with a more reasonable offer that was quickly accepted by the Braves.

Given that he wouldn't have expired all of his arbitration-eligible years until after the 2011 season, this contract extension doesn't exactly alter the length of time McCann would have likely spent as a Brave.

But it does provide McCann the long-term financial guarantee that isn't afforded by the one-year deals signed by arbitration-eligible players. In addition, the set salaries offered in this contract give the Braves the opportunity to make accurate long-term payroll projections.

McCann, who has hit .317 since making his Major League debut in June 2005, established himself as one of the game's top catchers last season. While hitting .333 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in '06, he earned his first All-Star Game appearance and first Silver Slugger Award.

McCann's annual salary breakdown over the course of the contract is as follows:
- $500,000 in 2007,
- $800,000 in '08,
- $3.5 million in '09,
- $5.5 million in '10,
- $6.5 million in '11 and
- $8.5 million in '12.

With escalators that are based on points that can be earned with the garnering of Silver Slugger Awards, Gold Glove Awards and All-Star Game appearances, McCann's 2012 salary could rise to $11.5 million.

The contract also includes a $12 million club option, with a $500,000 buyout for the 2013 season.

In an unusual move, McCann also requested that the contract allow the opportunity for the 2012 season to be converted into a club option. This unselfish move was made to allow the Braves some flexibility in the event that he's unable to continue to perform up to his projected levels.

Adapted from article on the Major League Baseball website.

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