After months of swirling rumors, Brian Cashman and the Yankees pulled the trigger and dealt catcher Brian McCann to the Astros for pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. It is a deal that makes plenty of sense given the current state of the Yankees and the younger, cheaper direction they seek as they continue to stock an already-replenished farm system.
As for McCann, it was already clear that he would not be the man behind the plate in 2017 after Gary Sanchez stormed onto the scene last summer. There was the potential for a DH role and a veteran presence to help Sanchez continue his rise to stardom, but ultimately the Yankees could not pass on adding two more solid prospects, who scouts have praised for their lively arms and high velocity.
Of course, this deal was not simply a salary dump. The Yankees will miss McCann in 2017, despite his declining numbers and age concerns. The 32-year-old saw his slugging percentage drop from .437 in 2015 to .413 last season, while his OPS+ of 99 was simply average. While McCann had his problems beating defensive shifts, he certainly took advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field and hit 20 or more home runs in each of his three seasons in the Bronx.
His 26-homer performance in 2015 was his best season as a Yankee, yet he never seemed to live up to the five-year, $85 million contract that he inked during the Yankees’ 2013-14 spending spree. McCann was disappointed in his declining role last season when Sanchez was dropping jaws, but he kept his mouth shut and did what was necessary for the team, which he did again by waiving his no-trade clause to make this deal with Houston possible.
Perhaps it will be McCann’s baseball mind that the Yankees miss the most in 2017. He could have been a valuable teacher to Sanchez, while also being a valuable DH when Joe Girardi needed some extra pop in the lineup. He could have also been used as a spot catcher more than capable of handling a rotation from behind the plate. He would have also served as a valuable veteran presence in a clubhouse that will be loaded with youngsters looking to reach their potential in the big leagues.
McCann also had his share of clutch hits, which is something the Yankees will miss in big moments. McCann delivered on multiple occasions during his tenure to provide fireworks for Yankees fans.
Sometimes, McCann’s clutch gene was even too much for his opponents on the field to handle:
(Okay, maybe that was just luck.)
It wasn’t hard to see that McCann’s value declined from a physical standpoint, but he actually did improve in some valuable areas in 2016. His OBP improved by 15 points from his 2015 season, and his batting average of balls in play increased from .235 to .269, so perhaps he fared a little better against the daunted shift last season than many of us think. His power numbers have dipped but are still respectable, and the Astros added a solid piece to their lineup that already possesses multiple power threats.
Overall, it was a necessary deal that can easily benefit both teams. The players that the Yankees got back in the trade are incredibly young, so it will take some time to see just how the deal fared for the Bombers. Both pitchers come to New York with their own sense of promise, while McCann leaves with mostly positive memories despite not being the potent offensive threat that he was paid millions to be.
After all, whatever McCann wasn’t able to accomplish on the field, he made up for off the field by displaying incredible acting skills and giving us one of the best imitations of “The Great Hambino” that we have ever seen.