The Yankees have traded C Brian McCann and cash considerations to the Houston Astros for right-handed pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman, the team announced Thursday evening.
The Yankees will pay $5.5 million of McCann's $17 million salary each of the next two years, while the Astros will cover the other $11.5 million, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Following the 2016 season, in which Abreu was 3-8 with a 3.72 ERA between Houston's low-A and advanced-A affiliates, the 21-year old pitcher was named the Astros' No. 7 prospect by MLB.com. In 101.2 innings in 2016, Abreu stuck out 115 batters and earned a 1.298 WHIP.
Guzman pitched 40.0 innings between the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League, finishing a 3-4 record to go with his 4.05 ERA and 1.150 WHIP. The 20-year old Dominican Republic-native struck out 54 hitters in 2016.
In McCann's final season with the Yankees, the veteran catcher appeared in 130 games and hit .242 with 20 HRs and 58 RBIs. The 32-year old struck out a career-high 99 times this year.
McCann signed a 5-year, $85 million contract with New York following the 2013 season.
I was one of the few people who felt that keeping McCann was the Yankees best option, more because I believe he could have benefitted a still growing Gary Sanchez behind the plate. The Yankees obviously feel that this is not necessary and wanted to clear as much of McCann's salary as possible.
The Yankees ability to clear $11.5 million of McCann's $17 million owed in each of the next two seasons allows them to put the cash toward an elite reliever (they are looking to re-sign Aroldis Chapman) and they will have to fill the designated hitter role (they have eyed a reunion with Carlos Beltran).
As for the players the Yankees received in return, Abreu was ranked No. 7 by MLB Pipeline in the Astros organization. Abreu has a 70 grade arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and reaches 99 mph with his arm. He might begin the season with High-A Tampa after reaching that level in 2016 with the Astros organization.
Guzman is a potential Low-A ball candidate based on his rookie level assignments in 2016. He has reached 102-103 mph with his fastball, but according to Baseball America's JJ Cooper, he is more effective when he throttles his fastball back into the 97-99 mph territory.
The deal makes sense from the point of view the Yankees wanting to shed some salary in order to earmark it for a run at Chapman as well as to continue their efforts to stockpile assets in the minor leagues.