*Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this article suggested that Gary Sanchez had not yet been called up by the Yankees.*
Brian McCann has cleared waivers and, as a result, could be traded away. The Yankees’ catcher was involved in trade rumors prior to the trade deadline as well, however, no trade was agreed upon.
After the non-waiver trade deadline on August 1st, teams are eligible to place players on revocable waivers. If the player clears waivers without being claimed, the team is free to trade him anywhere. If the player is claimed however, the team may pull that player back off of waivers and keep him, trade him to the club that put in the winning claim, or simply allow the other team to take that player and his contract.
McCann is batting .231/.330/.413 for the Yankees this season over 349 plate appearances, which is right around the league average by wRC+. According to Baseball Prospectus’ defensive metrics—which take into account catcher framing—McCann has saved his team 6.5 runs. It is clear that the 32-year old McCann can still provide value to a team then, though perhaps not elite value anymore.
Making him less tradeable—and the reason he cleared waivers to begin with—is McCann’s contract status. Over the next two seasons, he is owed $34 million and is attached to a team option in 2019 worth $15 million.
McCann was involved in some trade rumors prior to the August 1st deadline, however, those talks never materialized. This could be due to many factors, but not helping was the fact that Jonathan Lucroy was the most lucrative option and he didn’t move until the waning hours. This likely could have hampered the value of Padres’ catcher Derek Norris as well.
The trade deadline combined with recent events have signalled a change for the Yankees. Instead of buying, the team shipped away two of the most elite relievers in Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. In a seller’s market, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman appears to have hit a goldmine of an abbreviated rebuild. That is to say, the team sold off two assets—that they didn’t need—plus Ivan Nova and Carlos Beltran for substantial wealth in prospects. Wealth so substantial, that the rebuild doesn’t have to continue any further, and the major league roster still boasts some impressive assets.
Beyond the trade deadline, the retirements of both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have both been announced. This seems to be signalling a steady shift toward building a more youthful team. With the exit of Beltran, Teixeira, and Rodriguez, the Yankees seem prepared to hand their hopes over to Clint Frazier, Greg Bird, and Aaron Judge. If a deal is worked out for McCann, it could lead to a more full-time job for catching prospect Gary Sanchez down the stretch of the season.
Finding a trade partner for McCann may revolve around how willing the Yankees are to retain some salary. While the Yankees are frequently discussed as a team with the most payroll flexibility, they have nearly $130 million on the books for next season. It is also worth noting that McCann has a full no-trade clause and that could compound the matter of finding a trade partner even further.
Cashman and the rest of the Yankees front office will likely weigh the cost of keeping McCann over trading him away in lieu of paying some of his salary and hampering their chances to spend in 2017. The Yankees exceeded the luxury tax this season and have expressed a desire to end their streak of doing so.