BOSTON — David Ross had a message for his long-time friend and new rival Brian McCann.
“When I heard he signed [with the Yankees], I sent him a picture of me running over [Tigers catcher Alex] Avila and just told him, ‘Don’t block the plate,’” Ross joked Monday at the Wang Theater in Boston prior to a screening of MLB Productions’ World Series Film.
Ross and McCann spent four seasons playing together in Atlanta from 2009 through 2012, developing a friendship that’s as strong as the duo’s catching prowess. Ross, of course, joined the Red Sox last offseason, while McCann signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Yankees over the weekend.
Ross spoke with a group of reporters Monday, and McCann’s new deal with New York was among the topics of conversation. The Red Sox catcher admitted that he spoke with McCann — or “B-Mac,” as he called him — about the idea of joining forces in Boston, but that his former teammate’s decision was ultimately a personal one.
“I was just trying to tell him the good parts about Boston,” Ross said. “I think it’s a top-notch organization. I think they put the players first. Just the little things. They really treat the player well, and I told him what a great place it is to play and win, so I definitely was lobbying, but not like, ‘Hey man you’ve got to come here,’ because it comes down to him and his family.”
McCann is considered one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, and this offseason presented the 29-year-old with an opportunity to cash in on what has been a very successful career thus far. As a result, McCann is heading to New York on the largest average annual value contract — $17 million per year plus a sixth-year vesting option — ever given to a free-agent catcher.
“He told me, I think it came down to years,” Ross said. “When you add an option for six, it puts you at almost $100 [million], that’s a game-changer. And then when you talk about the short porch, I think he was excited about playing in that stadium long-term. He’s a guy who hits 20, and for me Atlanta’s a very fair park, you saw a guy who goes into Yankee Stadium. He’s going to miss 30 home runs there, he’s going to do well there, I just hope he doesn’t do it against us, that’s all I care about.”
McCann has reached the 20-homer mark in each of the last six seasons. He has seven All-Star selections and five Silver Sluggers under his belt, and is also considered one of the most passionate players in all of baseball. His presence within the Yankees’ lineup could add fuel to the Boston-New York rivalry, although Ross said Monday that there are no hard feelings over him choosing an American League East foe.
“I’m happy for him. I really am. That kind of stuff is above personal relationships,” Ross said. “He’s probably thinking about his family and what’s best for him. I know he wanted to come here [and] wanted to play with me, but the bottom line is there’s a whole lot more that goes into it than just friendship, as far as like organizations and all that, so I’m very, very happy for him and I look forward to competing with him.”
Ross and McCann will have an opportunity to compete against each other at least 19 times per season. That’s 19 opportunities for Ross to truck over McCann — just as he did to Avila during the 2013 ALCS.