Astros: Reviewing the 2016 Brian McCann trade with Yankees

We take a look back at the 2016 trade bringing Brian McCann to the Houston Astros.

The most important moves the Houston Astros made in advance of their championship 2017 season were bringing in veteran players to complement their young core. One of the best of these moves was trading for veteran catcher Brian McCann.

On Nov. 17, 2016, the Astros acquired McCann from the Yankees in exchange for pitchers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. McCann was one of the best catchers of his generation and a respected veteran, which the team sorely needed. Let’s see how it worked out.

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What the Astros Got

Basically the Astros got what they were looking for. McCann provided a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse, a hefty bat with some power and solid defense behind the plate. He’d hit at least 20 homers in nine consecutive seasons, and while that streak ended in Houston, it doesn’t mean he was a bust.

In 2017, McCann hit .241/.323/.436 with 18 homers in 97 games. Considering his games played and at-bats were his fewest since his rookie year, we’ll forgive him for not getting to 20 bombs. He still provided 2.2 offensive WAR and was slightly below average behind the plate according to defensive WAR. He also homered in the World Series.

McCann battled injuries in 2018 and hit just .212/.301/.339 with seven homers in 63 games. Defensive WAR liked his performance better than the previous year, though, so he still had a positive overall WAR total. He left via free agency after that 2018 season.

What the Astros Gave Up

Abreu had only reached High-A ball at the time of the trade. In the three seasons since, he has yet to reach Triple-A. He posted a 4.28 ERA in 96.2 innings at the Double-A level in 2019. He’s now 24 years old.

Guzman played only one season in the Yankees system before being sent to Miami. He also spent the 2019 season at Double-A, pitching to a 3.50 ERA in 138.2 innings there. The 24-year-old made a couple of Spring Training appearances this year but got rocked.

The Final Verdict

Considering the Yankees have yet to see any return at the major league level from this trade, it’s pretty easy to call it a win for the Astros. They got 1.7 WAR from McCann in two seasons plus some veteran leadership they desperately needed.

The Yankees haven’t missed McCann too much, as they were looking to trade him thanks to the emergence of Gary Sanchez. Sanchez has struggled defensively at times, but McCann would’ve been far too expensive for them to keep around as a second catcher. The trade also helped them clear some payroll space.

Still, McCann was a useful player and the Yankees haven’t really gotten anything out of the trade except salary relief. The Astros got what they wanted and didn’t give up anyone they’d currently be missing. This was a good trade and a definite win for Houston.

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