Brian McCann loved playing in New York. He just loved catching more.
The Yankees traded the 32-year-old to the Astros on Thursday, sending McCann and $11 million to Houston in exchange for righthanded pitchers Albert Abreu — the Astros’ No. 7-ranked prospect — and Jorge Guzman.
McCann, who has two years and $34 million remaining on his contract, had been hearing trade rumors for weeks, though with a full no-trade clause, he knew he would ultimately control his future. Talk between the Yankees and Astros picked up in recent days, leading to McCann’s decision to waive the no-trade on Thursday, clearing the way for a deal.
“I just want to catch every day,” McCann told the Daily News in his first public comments following the trade. “I’m not ready to catch once a week. It worked out where a great young team was in need of a catcher. It all worked out.”
McCann signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees before the 2014 season, hit .235 with 69 home runs, 227 RBI and a .731 OPS in 405 games over the past three seasons. He won a Silver Slugger award as the American League’s top-hitting catcher in 2015.
But after the Yankees traded away Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman before the August 1 trade deadline, then released Alex Rodriguez, the team’s commitment to a youth movement officially began.
That led to Gary Sanchez taking over behind the plate and McCann being relegated to a designated hitter role, catching about once a week over the final two months. Sanchez was one of the best players in the league during his two-month debut, hitting .299 with 20 homers, 42 RBI and an eye-popping 1.032 OPS in 53 games, finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.
General manager Brian Cashman had stated several times this offseason that Sanchez will be the Yankees’ everyday catcher, leaving McCann to fill the DH role while serving as Sanchez’s backup behind the plate.
That wasn’t going to be good enough for McCann, a seven-time All-Star catcher.
“I’ve still got some good years left behind the plate,” McCann said. “I’m a catcher and that’s what I want to play. That was what it came down to. With Gary being a catcher and me still wanting to catch, the trade was a perfect fit.
“He came up and it was fun to watch; he’s earned it,” McCann said of Sanchez. “The Yankees signed him at 16 years old and he grew up through the system. I was in awe of what he was doing last year. I want to look up in 15 years and see him have an amazing career. He’s just getting started.”
McCann had nothing but glowing comments about his time in the Bronx, so he’s not leaving with a chip on his shoulder despite being essentially pushed out by a younger player.
“I’m excited about joining the Astros,” McCann said. “There are things I’m going to miss and people I’m going to miss in New York. It’s a special place. The fans are amazing. But I still want to catch. That’s what I want, to be an everyday catcher.
“I loved my time in New York. I loved the people I met. I made some friends for life and some relationships that I’ll have forever.”
It remains to be seen where the Yankees go now to fill the DH spot, though a reunion with Beltran — who is back on the free-agent market — is in play. They could also use a combination of players currently on the roster including Chase Headley, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird if they choose not to make a big signing.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News