With a few open spots left on their 40-Man roster, General Manager Jeff Luhnow went to work filling holes created by free agency. Out went pitcher Doug Fister, so Luhnow signed righthander Charlie Morton on Wednesday to a two-year deal worth $14 million. The 33-year-old can also make additional bonus money if he can reach 30 starts in either year, something he has not done in any of his nine big league seasons so far.
McCann: Veteran adds power
(c) Washington Post
But that was just the beginning. On Thursday, the Astros announced they had traded two minor league pitching prospects, Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman, to the Yankees for veteran catcher Brian McCann. New York is also picking up $11 million of the $34 million left on the remaining two years of McCann's contract which also has a team option in 2019 for $15 million.
The seven-time All-Star will turn 33 in February. He has been spending more time as a DH and less as a catcher in recent years which balances Evan Gattis as a pair of catchers who can alternate starts behind the dish and also DH when the other catches. McCann hits lefty while Gattis bats from the right side.
McCann also brings a fierce attitude and a knack for clutch hits who has stung the Astros as an opponent on many occasions. Over the past three seasons, he has averaged .235 batting with 23 homers and a .731 OPS while appearing in 135 games. He'll be a clear upgrade over Jason Castro who left in free agency.
To top it off, the Astros reached a four-year deal with outfielder Josh Reddick, pending a physical, worth $52 million. Reddick replaces the departed Colby Rasmus who left in free agency. The lefty hitting Reddick will turn 30 in February. He split time last season between the Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the past three seasons, he has averaged .273 with a .766 OPS and 14 homers. He also won a Gold Glove as a right fielder in 2012. Reddick might make newly-acquired outfielder Nori Aoki expendable or the Astros might move George Springer into center field and put lefty hitters Aoki and Reddick in the corners. If not, righty-hitting Jake Marisnick would be the preferred option in center.
One special note about Reddick we hope the Decison Scientists haven't ignored. He's a solid .780 OPS batter against righthanded pitching. Against lefties though, he hits a substandard .640 OPS which mirrors Marisnick's stronger numbers against lefties so one could easily see a platoon situation developing.
Without moving anyone off the 40-man, the Astros are now at full capacity and are completely exposed in the upcoming Rule V draft so there may be a couple of players optioned in order to make room.
Elsewhere, Jose Altuve finished a distant third place in the AL voting for Most Valuable Player, behind winner Mike Trout of the Angels and Mookie Betts of the Red Sox. Altuve received none of the 30 first place votes and just two votes for second place.
Also, the Astros announced former big league infielder Joey Cora would be the bench coach in Houston next season, replacing Trey Hillman who will be managing a club in South Korea.
- Bob Hulsey