It was widely reported this week that catcher Brian McCann signed a deal with the Atlanta Braves, his hometown team. McCann was an unrestricted free agent after the Astros declined to pick up the one-year option on his contract this fall. McCann started his career in Atlanta where he played for nine seasons racking up seven All-Star appearances (including a midsummer classic MVP award in 2019) and six of his seven Silver Slugger awards.
He then joined the Yankees for two seasons before the Astros acquired him for pitchers Jorge Guzman and Albert Abreu (both remain in the minors) after the 2016 season.
McCann was never known for his defensive capabilities, but was a solid switch-hitting catcher and had a tremendous rapport with pitchers who loved how he called a game. In 2017, he was an integral part of the Astros World Series run appearing in 93 games as he shared plate duties with Evan Gattis. He hit .241 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI. More importantly, he was instrumental in holding together a patchwork pitching staff right through the postseason.
Last season, he spent a large chunk of the year on the disabled list and never really got it going hitting only .212 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI. It was widely expected, particularly with the in-season acquisition of Martin Maldonado (who is a free agent and has yet to sign with anyone), that McCann would not return. It is also a foregone conclusion Evan Gattis will leave via free agency, subtracting both of the Astros starting pitchers from the year they won the World Series and the two guys with the most manly beards on the team.
McCann was one of the really good guys of the last couple years on a team full of them. With his loss and Gattis, if nothing else, it dramatically decreases the team's "guys who look like lumberjacks" quota.
Additionally, it leaves open a spot the Astros have struggled to fill over the years at catcher. Maldonado remains a free agent, which leaves Max Stassi as the lone "veteran" on the roster to go behind the dish. Undoubtedly, this will be a key focus on GM Jeff Lunhow as the winter Hot Stove League progresses.