HOUSTON -- Brian McCann was already expensive, and he was suddenly expendable with the emergence of rookie phenom Gary Sanchez. So the Yankees made the veteran catcher available on the trade market last offseason, and the Astros pounced.• Dress for the World Series: Get Astros postseason gearMcCann first had to waive
HOUSTON -- Brian McCann was already expensive, and he was suddenly expendable with the emergence of rookie phenom Gary Sanchez. So the Yankees made the veteran catcher available on the trade market last offseason, and the Astros pounced.
• Dress for the World Series: Get Astros postseason gear
McCann first had to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal that sent two Minor League pitchers to New York, a decision that ultimately made for great narrative in the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World.
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The Yanks, paying $5.5 million of his $17 million annual salary for each of the two guaranteed years remaining on his contract, were tormented by McCann.
The catcher was integral to Houston's offensive doings in Games 6 and 7, the latter featuring a two-run double from McCann to cap a three-run fifth inning in a 4-0 Astros victory that guaranteed them a date with the Dodgers on Tuesday night in the World Series presented by YouTube TV.
"I'm speechless," McCann said. "I'm emotional. This is one of the best teams I've ever had."
And McCann has occupied plenty. The 33-year-old spent three seasons with New York following nine in Atlanta, his offensive production declining along the way.
The Astros wanted McCann, anyway.
"He's got an incredible reputation," Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "You talk to any pitcher that's thrown to him, they're going to tell you this is a guy you want to throw to. McCann was at the top of our list, and fortunately we were able to get the deal done."
McCann hit .241 for the Astros during the regular season, and his postseason production was lacking. He picked up hits in each of the first two games against Boston in the AL Division Series presented by Doosan, before falling into an 0-for-20 rut.
But McCann's ground-rule double sparked a three-run fifth inning in Game 6 on Friday, bringing Houston's bats back to life after they had fallen silent in New York, where the Astros were outscored by 15 (19-4) in Games 3-5. On Saturday, McCann walked in each of his first two trips to the plate before launching yet another game-changing double.
McCann did his part on both sides of the ball, maintaining his defensive excellence behind the plate while also helping batterymates Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combine on a shutout. As was often the case in this series, McCann starred in game-changing plays at the plate, while his counterpart, Sanchez, struggled to secure the ball when it mattered most.
McCann offered not humor but gratitude in speaking of his former teammates.
"I have friends over there that I'll be talking to when I'm an old man," McCann said. "I love that organization. I'm so thankful for them. For them to rebuild a year ago and be in Game 7, it just speaks volumes. [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman has done an amazing job. Top to bottom, they truly are a first-class organization."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.