The Houston Astros should begin opening up the purse strings a bit this winter, and with Jason Castro set to hit the free agent market, they could stick with the status quo, or look to acquire a veteran behind the dish like Brian McCann who could be on the market.
The New York Post recently named the Houston Astros as “The team lurking as a good fit for Brian McCann,” and in our Astros offseason prep guide a couple of weeks ago, I listed this as one of the options that the team should strongly consider. The Post suggests that if the Yankees eat about $6M per year for the remaining two seasons left on his contract, that New York could get something of a little more value in a trade.
While this is true, the Astros may be more comfortable with paying the full amount of McCann’s contract as opposed to sending over a pitching prospect (just a guess) when their own need for starting pitching down the stretch hurt their chances at clinching a postseason berth.
Francis Martes, David Paulino, Joe Musgrove and Chris Devenski would be off the table from a Houston standpoint. A little further down the prospect rankings, someone like Jandel Gustave could be a fit. Gustave is a hard-throwing right-hander out of the bullpen that has had issues with control in the past, but he made his big league debut in 2016 and held a 3.52 ERA (3.54 FIP) while striking out 9.39 per nine and walking just 2.35.
MLB Pipeline says that his ceiling is a lights out closer, but that he has a ways to go to realize that potential. FanGraphs lists his fastball at an average of 97.1 miles per hour, with his other offering being a slider that clocks in at four miles an hour faster than Jered Weaver‘s 83 mph heater. There is a ton of upside with Gustave that could intrigue the Yankees.
Reymin Gudyan is another option to consider, as he is very similar to Gustave only a bit more erratic and a southpaw. The fact that he is a lefty should be a determining factor if the Astros were able to pick which one to keep. Both are 24 years old.
With McCann added to the lineup, he wouldn’t need to carry the offense by any means. He would be slotted in the lower third with whoever is playing first (A.J. Reed?) and likely the centerfielder, say Jake Marisnick. At first blush that doesn’t look like an intimidating part of the order, but if Reed develops like the top prospect he was pegged as, they’ll be able to drive in the middle of the order while Marisnick has had a flair for the dramatic in the past. Regular playing time could give him a boost at the dish as well.
McCann would be a big boost over Castro at the plate, giving them a second above average offensive catcher in addition to Evan Gattis, while also bringing over McCann’s intangibles. The Houston Astros should definitely add some veteran leadership this offseason, and with a need at catcher and McCann likely to be dangled as trade bait, this move would make plenty of sense for both clubs.