ATLANTA — Brian McCann slipped on the No. 16 jersey he wore for so many years.
“It feels right,” he said, over and over again.
Looking to improve on their first division title in five years, the Atlanta Braves agreed Monday a one-year contract with McCann.
McCann’s $2 million contract was announced by the Braves, reuniting the team with a catcher who was a seven-time All-Star from 2005-13. A native of suburban Atlanta, he was eager for a chance to return home with his wife and two children.
“This is as special a day for me as any I’ve had in my career,” McCann said during a hastily called news conference at SunTrust Park. “To put this uniform back on, with the love I have for this organization, the love I have for everybody from top to bottom, people I’ve known since I was 18 years old, that’s why I’m here.”
McCann also inadvertently mention the Braves’ other pending move, a reported one-year deal for free agent slugger Josh Donaldson, while general manager Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment.
“I don’t know if I was supposed to say that,” McCann said, sounding a bit embarrassed. “I just read it on Twitter.”
Quipped Anthopoulos: “I don’t even know who that is.”
McCann, who turns 35 in February, left the Braves to sign an $85 million, five-year contract with the New York Yankees. He was traded to Houston after the emergence of Gary Sanchez , helping the Astros win their first World Series title in 2017.
But McCann dipped badly this year, hitting a career-low .212 with seven homers and 23 RBI in 63 games. He missed about two months because of arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July.
While the Braves signed McCann mainly for his leadership abilities and the chance to work with a young starting staff, Anthopoulos said he’s hopeful that the catcher will bounce back offensively “now that he’s got his knee fixed. The reports on him are very strong. We think is upside is great, beyond everything else he brings.”
Suzuki recently signed a two-year deal with NL East rival Washington.
McCann thanked Charlie Culberson for agreeing to give up No. 16, which the utility player wore in 2018 for the Braves.
“I have to get him something nice,” McCann said. “That number means a lot to me. That’s the number I wore my first nine years. It’s special.”