2:06pm: The Yankees announced the claim of Abreu, adding that righty David McKay was designated for assignment to open a spot on the roster.
1:45pm: The Yankees have brought righty Albert Abreu back to the organization, claiming him off waivers from the Royals on Tuesday, Robert Murray of FanSided reports (via Twitter). They’ll need to make a corresponding 40-man move to accommodate Abreu, who was designated for assignment by Kansas City last week.
It’s been just over two months since the Yankees traded Abreu to the Rangers in the deal that brought catcher Jose Trevino to the Bronx. The swap has paid huge dividends for the Yanks, as Trevino has surprised with a .278/.336/.454 batting line through his first 119 plate appearances. He’s also provided excellent defense, as he was previously known for, and generally filled a major void for a Yankees team that otherwise did little to address its catching situation over the winter. New York picked up light-hitting Ben Rortvedt in the trade that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to Minnesota, but he’s been sidelined all season due to injury.
Abreu’s time with the Rangers, meanwhile, proved to be brief. Although he posted a 3.12 ERA in his 8 2/3 innings with Texas, he also issued a staggering 12 walks and plunked a batter. The Rangers understandably weren’t enthused with that alarming lack of command and wound up designating Abreu for assignment and trading him to the Royals. He pitched just 4 1/3 innings for Kansas City and wound up with another four walks and a hit batter before being designated for assignment.
Abreu, 26, has long drawn positive scouting grades for a plus fastball and a pair of above-average secondary offerings (changeup, slider). Command has always been his Achilles heel, however, as evidenced by his perennially lofty walk rates in the minors. He’s out of minor league options, so the Yankees will tuck him back into the big league relief corps for now in hopes of again working with him to harness his command of the strike zone.
As for the 27-year-old McKay, he pitched in just two games with the Yankees, hurling two scoreless innings in the process. Like Abreu, he’s been far too prone to issuing walks at the MLB level, however; in 28 2/3 innings between the Mariners, Tigers and Yankees, McKay has walked 20 of the 127 batters he’s faced (15.7%). McKay has whiffed 34.4% of his career opponents in Triple-A, which surely intrigues some clubs, but his command issues have prevented him from finding any sustained MLB success. The Yankees will have a week to trade him release him or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.