Brian McCann, the Yankees catcher from the beginning of 2014 until the emergence of Gary Sanchez in 2016, is gone. Both parties involved, McCann and the Yankees, are probably the happier for it; McCann needed to catch everyday for his final vesting option to go through, and the Yankees get a salary dump and two lottery ticket prospects. I’m sure there will be plenty of reflection on McCann’s Yankees career, and he deserves that, but this post will focus solely on the Astros prospects coming back in the deal.
The main piece of this deal is Albert Abreu, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic. The Astros signed Abreu for $185,000 back in 2013, which now looks brilliant as they’ll use that small seed money to get themselves an everyday catcher. Abreu is a classic lottery ticket prospect, as I’m sure you’ve heard: he can throw up to 98 mph with an excellent curve, but he has neither an effective third pitch nor a lick of command. So, far—and numbers mean little at this level—Abreu has put up a 3.16 ERA across his minor league career, and most recently a 5.40 ERA in 11 innings at High-A Lancaster. Here’s what J.J. Cooper of Baseball America had to say:
And here’s what Eric Longenhagen over at FanGraphs said:
If you’d like to see him for yourself, here is some video from Vince Lara-Cinisomo from the spring:
The ancillary piece of this trade is Jorge Guzman, and he’s yet another hard-throwing right-hander. Guzman is just 20 years-old, and he was signed during the 2014 July 2nd international signing period. He is only as far as Rookie ball, so he’s a long way off, and many don’t think he develops into a starter.
The bright side, though, is that he throws really, really hard. Some have clocked Guzman as high as 102 mph, meaning he could be one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game if he continues on his current trajectory. Longenhagen considers him to be “raw,” and Cooper described him as a “power reliever in the long term.” Neither of those are necessarily bad things.
The return for McCann was never going to blow us away. The market for catchers isn’t a particularly hot one, especially with a player who is above average at best. Nonetheless, this was a nice haul. Brian Cashman and the front office continue on their quest to acquire as much minor league talent as possible, stockpiling the farm system so the team can make midseason internal additions, or use that depth to swing a deal in the right spot. If for some reason this team exceeds expectations in 2017, they very well could dip into the talent pool and have a large amount left over.
This acquisition tended toward prioritizing the future over the present, which also isn’t a bad thing. Maybe Abreu becomes a starter, or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe Guzman turns into a power reliever, or maybe he flops. Either way, the more of these types of players you acquire, the more likely one, or more, pan out your way. If the Yankees continue this trend, they could be in a very favorable position in 2018 and beyond.