Yes, the trade deadline has passed. But the Astros could still be active on the trade market.
As the Astros offense continues to scuffle and the idea of looking forward to the 2017 season in lieu of the playoffs more realistic by the day, it may serve the organization well if it continued its search for external upgrades at certain positions.
One interesting option could be New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who has recently cleared waivers per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. By clearing waivers, McCann is now available to the other 29 teams via trade without worries of another team blocking a deal.
This presents an intriguing to the Astros as the team not only searches for more offense, but it may also shore up a position that has much uncertainty past the current season.
Incumbent starting catcher Jason Castro is entering free agency for the first time this offseason, and the Astros have yet to show much confidence with Evan Gattis as the primary backstop. There is also no guarantee that the team’s front office would dedicate the financial resources to keep Castro in Houston long-term. And outside of Max Stassi, there isn’t another notable Astros catching prospect who has major league experience. So in theory adding a player of McCann’s caliber makes sense on the surface.
One cannot deny that the veteran catcher would be an upgrade offensively.
McCann has been a consistent presence at the plate throughout his major league career. The former Atlanta Brave crushed a career-high 26 home runs. This season McCann has hit .231/.330/.413 with 15 home runs and 44 RBI entering Monday night. And while his best hitting days are clearly behind him, he did present some nice value with a 1.5 oWAR this season and a 2.8 oWAR in 2015. This would be an improvement from Castro, whose 0.7 oWAR leaves much to be desired.
Of course, McCann’s defense and age are the primary concerns that most teams may have when considering the possibility of acquiring the 32-year old catcher. Anytime a player hits the other side of 30; most teams begin to wonder how long they may have regarding decent value.
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This is where the defense aspect of McCann becomes interesting.
If you go by his dWAR of 0.1 in 2016, McCann has not been a renowned defensive catcher. In fact, his dWAR has only topped 1.0 once, and that was way back in 2008. Of course, Castro has only surpassed that 1.0 total only twice so take that with a grain of salt.
But what makes the possibility of McCann at catcher slightly more interesting is decent RAA of 4.4 this season. Even though Castro has an 11.8 RAA, McCann’s RAA surpasses Gattis, albeit the difference in playing time behind the plate is quite noticeable. But the fact that McCann’s score ranks in the top-15 in baseball is encouraging for any team looking hard at his defensive capabilities.
The contract is another interesting aspect to consider. It is true that McCann is signed through the 2018 season with roughly $34 million left on his deal. There is also a 2019 team option for $15 million. Then the full no-trade clause. But overall, there could be much worse value could have for that amount of money on today’s market. Take into account his impact in a young clubhouse then it may be advantageous for the Astros to take a flier on the veteran catcher.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**