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Duluth's Brian McCann agrees to $85M deal with Yankees

Brian McCann, 29, a Duluth High School grad, was a seven-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

Brian McCann, 29, a Duluth High School grad, was a seven-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

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Brian McCann

Brian McCann, who got a chance to play at home during a nine-year career with the Atlanta Braves, is now heading North thanks to an offer that would have been hard to refuse.

The Duluth High School graduate and Suwanee resident has agreed to a five-year, $85 million free agent deal with the New York Yankees. The contract, which becomes official after McCann takes a physical, carries an option for a sixth year and includes a no-trade clause.

The average yearly salary of $17 million is the highest ever given a catcher in free agency and the deal will be worth more than $100 million if the option is picked up.

McCann reached 20 homers for the seventh straight season in 2013 and the left-handed hitter could approach 30 for the first time playing at Yankee Stadium, which has a short porch in right field.

American League teams had the lead on McCann, who turns 30 before next season, because of the possibility of using him as a designated hitter as well as behind the plate. The Yankees, though, need him to catch full time for now with just Chris Stewart or Austin Romine to back him up.

World Series champion Boston and Texas also coveted McCann, driving up his bargaining position. That put the Braves out of the running although McCann had been a seven-time National League all-star for them.

“Being selfish, I’d like them to work it out so we could stay together,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman recently. “It’s unfortunate that things might happen. It’s definitely going to be weird if he is somewhere else next season.”

Now the Braves know that somewhere else for McCann is New York.

McCann is the second prominent Braves free agent to leave the team within a week. Pitcher Tim Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million deal with San Francisco.

Hudson and McCann will be missed both on the field and in the clubhouse, where they were team leaders.

The Braves made a qualifying offer of $14.1 million to McCann for 2014 and his signing with the Yankees will net them a first-round draft choice as compensation.

McCann was a second-round pick by the Braves behind first-rounder Jeff Francoeur in 2002 and reached the majors during the 2005 season.

The six-time NL Silver Slugger winner made $12 million last season in the option year of a long-term deal with the Braves and bounced back well from shoulder surgery until slumping late and then going hitless in the NL Division Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

McCann made the All-Star Game despite not playing until early May and finished with 20 homers and 57 RBIs to go with a .256 average in 102 games.

McCann career average with the Braves was .277 and he had 176 homers and 661 RBIs in 1,105 games. He had an on-base percentage of .350 and a slugging mark of .473.