Astros Trade Review: McCann Solidifies Behind the Dish and Middle of Lineup

Astros Trade Review: McCann Solidifies Behind the Dish and Middle of Lineup

With the draft in our rearview mirror, general managers across the league are now starting to shift their focus to the July 31st MLB trade deadline. Leading up to the deadline, we will be looking back at trades that the Houston Astros have made (mostly those under current GM Jeff Luhnow) to get an idea of how they may approach the upcoming deadline. While most of thee trades under the Luhnow regime have been to revamp their farm system, today we will look at a trade that signaled they were going for it, this offseason’s trade for Brian McCann.

Full Trade Details:

Astros Receive:

Brian McCann – .275 AVG, .362 OBP, .491 SLG, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 7 2B, 26 Runs, 1 SB

Yankees Receive:

Albert Abreu – (Between A and high A): 1-3, 3.82 ERA, 37.2 IP, 41 K, 12 BB, .241 AVG against, 1.22 WHIP

Jorge Guzman (Short A) – 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 5 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, .176 Batting Avg Against, 1.00 WHIP

Astros Side of Things

With the acquisition of Brian McCann, Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros were looking for someone who could take over the everyday catching duties from the departed Jason Castro, while providing some more offense from the left side. McCann has done just this. According to FanGraphs, he has a 1.5 WAR (wins above replacement) and has been solid offensively this year.  Defensively, while he may not have the same defensive prowess as a Jason Castro, he has handled the pitching staff well and has been above average behind the plate.

Offensively, McCann has provided both good power and on base ability. Part of his success has been due to an 11.1 walk percentage (highest since 2010) and a 14.1 strikeout percentage (lowest since 2008). He is also succeeding due to hitting lefties just as well (in fact, better) than righties. He has 5 HR against lefties and 5 against righties and actually has a higher average against lefties (.300 vs. .267). As a result, even though he is not a switch hitter, he has deflected some of the late inning advantages that opposing bullpens can gain based on matchups.  Additionally, he has been off to such a good start that he currently sits second in the American League All-Star voting at catcher.

Yankees Side of Things

Albert Abreu currently sits as the Yankees’ 10th best prospect according to MLB.com. Abreu’s fastball is in the mid to upper 90’s and has some developing power offspeed pitches; however, there has been some debate as to whether he will be able to hold on to being a starter or whether he will ultimately be destined for a relief role. If he can improve his command and continue to develop his secondary pitches, he could be a key component on a pitching staff. If he cannot, then he will still more than likely make it to the majors as an effective power reliever. Abreu started the season at A ball, where he went 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA, 1.80 avg. against, 0.82 WHIP with 22 k’s vs. 3 walks. Statistically, he has struggled a little more since being promoted to high A ball. There he has gone 0-3 with a 5.09 ERA, .275 avg. against, 1.48 WHIp with 19 k’s vs. 9 walks. Abreu’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) at high A still sits at a more respectable 3.51, though, so the traditional statistics may be somewhat misleading.  Abreu recently had to leave a start and he currently is on the disabled list with what is believed to be elbow inflammation.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 by the Astros, Jorge Guzman is a very hard throwing righty who sits as the Yankees’ 25th best prospect. Guzman consistently throws in the high 90’s and has been known to run it up as high as 103 mph. Despite this, many believe he is even more likely to become a reliever than Abreu as he struggles with command, especially the harder he throws his fastball. This, in addition to a lack of secondary pitches, makes it seem like the Astros gave up a young, hard-thrower, but one who will be nothing more than a reliever.

Final Grade: A-

This is all about the championship window. The Astros are in it right now and Jeff Luhnow did an excellent job of finding left-handed bats in Brian McCann (as well as Josh Reddick and switch-hitting Carlos Beltran) to balance a very potent lineup led by Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. Of the two prospects that we gave up, Abreu is the one who has the most potential to come back and “bite us” by turning into a very solid major leaguer. Despite this, though, if the Astros win a World Series with McCann behind the dish, no one is going to bat an eye that we gave up two prospects from low-A ball to make it happen.

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