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Yankees trade Brian McCann to Houston for two minor league pitchers

The Yankees have traded C/DH Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for a pair of right-handed minor league pitchers, the team announced on twitter Thursday night. Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman will head to New York.

McCann signed a five-year, $85M deal with the Yankees prior to the 2014 season with a $15M vesting option for 2019. The option will vest if he totals 1,000 PAs from 2017-18, catches 90 games in ’18 and is not on the disabled list at the end of the ’18 season. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Yankees will kick in $5.5M of the $17M McCann will make each of the next two seasons.

Abreu, 21, was named as the seventh overall prospect in the Astros’ system by mlb.com. The righty can run his fastball up to 99 mph, and has two breaking balls – a slider, which scouts believe to be his best secondary pitch, and a curveball. Abreu also features a changeup. He spent the past season between Single-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster. Overall, he pitched to a 4.16 ERA with 115 strikeouts in 101.2 innings. He compiled a 115/58 K/BB ratio in 24 games – 16 of which were starts.

Guzman, 20, did not crack Houston’s top 30 prospect list. He pitched in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League in 2016, earning a 4.05 ERA and a 54/17 K/BB ratio in 40 innings.

McCann, 32, had to approve any deal thanks to the full no-trade clause in his contract. With the emergence of Gary Sanchez, McCann was reduced to being a designated hitter. The call to pull the trigger on the deal was a tough decision for him to make, according to Brendan Kuty of nj.com.

“This is a bittersweet day for him,” said B.B. Abbott, McCann’s agent. “It was a very tough decision for him. He’s very excited to be part of what Houston has going on and it was tough and will be tough to say goodbye to a really good organization and some teammates he’s come really close to.”

McCann will likely split time at catcher for the Astros with righties Evan Gattis and Max Stassi. McCann slashed .242/.335/.413 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI in 492 plate appearances in 2016, and still has good seasons ahead of him. He finishes his career in the Bronx with a .235/.313/.418 line with 69 home runs and 227 RBI in 405 games.

With some money coming off the books and the DH spot wide open, it looks like the Yankees now have the flexibility to make a reunion with Carlos Beltran possible.

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