2:00pm: McCann will require surgery on his knee that will sideline him for the next four to six weeks, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).
It seems doubtful that’ll change the team’s immediate approach all that much, though if Stassi is struggling in a regular role three weeks from now, perhaps the organization would consider some type of addition behind the plate.
10:39am: The Astros will place Brian McCann back on the 10-day disabled list due to a right knee injury and will select the contract of Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Fresno in his place, as Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. The Astros will also activate Joe Smith from the 10-day DL. Houston’s 40-man roster is currently at 38 players, so they won’t need to make a corresponding move for Federowicz’s addition, though they’ll need to open a 25-man spot for Smith.
McCann has now been on the DL three times with right knee soreness dating back to August 2017. For a 34-year-old who was long one of the league’s most durable backstops, perhaps that’s not exactly surprising. Still, whether it’s due to his apparently ongoing knee discomfort or simply due to a decline in skills, McCann is currently enduring the worst season of his Major League career. Through 173 plate appearances, he’s batting just .206/.283/.323 with five homers and three doubles. He’s the league’s second-slowest runner as well, per Statcast, topping only Albert Pujols in terms of sprint speed (22.6 feet per second).
Max Stassi will serve as the primary catcher in place of McCann — and it’s very arguable that despite McCann’s contract, that should be the arrangement through season’s end. The 27-year-old Stassi is hitting .255/.335/.482 with seven homers and 11 doubles through 158 plate appearances so far in 2018, and while he’s been below average in terms of throwing out would-be base thieves (22 percent to McCann’s 33 percent), Stassi rates as the top framing catcher in the league, per Baseball Prospectus. In fact, Stassi leads all big league catchers in BP’s Fielding Runs Above Average metric.
As for Federowicz, the 30-year-old journeyman will return to the ’Stros for a second time in 2018. He came up earlier this season and went 1-for-7 in a tiny sample of work. Federowicz has turned in a brilliant season in Triple-A so far, hitting .328/.404/.560 through 151 PAs. That’s largely how Federowicz’s career has gone to this point. In parts of eight Triple-A campaigns, he’s mashed at a .306/.376/.508 clip, but he’s managed just a .195/.243/.312 batting line through 325 PAs in the Majors.