The possibility of a Brian McCann trade has been speculated about for months, driven in large part by the emergence of Gary Sanchez, and Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that the Yanks have already identified a potential trade partner. Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that the Astros are interested in McCann, though it’s not definitively clear that Houston is the unnamed team referenced by Feinsand. It’s worth noting that neither report is an indicator that a deal is close at this time, though Feinsand’s report does seem to suggest that GM Brian Cashman has had some level of productive talks.
McCann, 32, has full no-trade protection and will need to approve any trade, and Cashman says he hasn’t spoken to his catcher about the possibility of anything yet. “[McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott] said, ’Keep me posted; why don’t you guys go through the process and if you have something you need to talk to us about, give us a call,” Cashman explained. “…He hasn’t told me no on anything. I do have a personal belief of what’s more workable than others.”
Per Feinsand, the Astros are “desperate” to add both a catcher and a left-handed bat, so the fit certainly makes plenty of sense. Houston’s lineup is pretty heavy in terms of right-handed hitters, with George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis and Yulieski Gurriel all hitting from the right side of the dish. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow In addition to McCann’s no-trade protection, his contractual status could serve as an impediment. The Astros may not be keen on paying McCann the full $34MM he’s owed over the next two seasons, though the Yankees could include some cash to help offset the financial burden for Houston. Furthermore, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Morosi earlier today that he foresees the team’s payroll escalating next season, so Houston should have the funds to make the move work if Luhnow and Cashman can agree on a prospect return and if McCann approves the deal.
Houston is currently set to lose Jason Castro to free agency, leaving Gattis and Max Stassi as the primary catching options within the organization. McCann would give the ’Stros a left-handed bat to replace Castros — and a more productive one, at that. Castro was solid against right-handed pitchers this past season but hit just .210/.307/.377 overall, while McCann provided a much more robust .242/.335/.413 slash and has hit at least 20 homers in nine straight seasons.
As for the Yankees, if they do ultimately find a trade for McCann, they could pursue free-agent DH options, according to Feinsand. He lists shorter-term options like Carlos Beltran, Kendrys Morales and Mike Napoli as more likely candidates than Edwin Encarnacion or Mark Trumbo, who could both command four-year deals this winter (and perhaps five, in Encarnacion’s case).