After unloading McCann, Yankees should reload with Beltran

The New York Yankees can win the Brian McCann trade before a pitch is thrown in spring training. It's pretty simple, really.

Just sign Carlos Beltran to a one-year deal.

If the Yankees do that, the McCann trade can already go in the W column for general manager Brian Cashman. For 2017, Cashman would upgrade the designated hitter spot with Beltran over McCann. Even with Beltran turning 40 in April, it is hard to see McCann outhitting the potential future Hall of Famer.

Beltran -- who played two full seasons in New York before being dealt to Texas in August -- would also support the Yankees' most questionable spot next season. The Yankees are bent on going into 2017 with the combination of Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks in right field. Judge struck out in 42 of his 84 at-bats in 2016. Hicks wasn't very good for much of the season. Still, the Yankees have high hopes for their potential. Judge will likely be given the job.

If neither of the two Aarons can do the job, Beltran could play right. Now, Beltran doesn't move well there -- which is why he was often a six-inning player for Yankees manager Joe Girardi in 2016 -- but he would give the club another option in a worst-case scenario.

At the same time, the Yankees are satisfying a not-so-subtle goal to eventually move under the luxury-tax number. With Alex Rodriguez's $21 million and CC Sabathia's $25 million on the books for 2017, the Yankees can't get there, yet. However, soon afterward they might be able to duck under what is currently a $189 million threshold. (That figure could change with the new collective bargaining agreement.)

The Yankees will have only $5.5 million of McCann's contract counting toward the tax during the 2018 season.

This is important because of the historic free-agent class after 2018. The likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, among others, could be available, and it is vital for the Yankees to reset their luxury-tax number.

Right now, they pay 50 cents on the dollar in taxes. For example, if they signed Harper today for $400 million, it would cost them $600 million. They might be able to erase the tax entirely (depending on the new CBA) if they fall below the threshold for just one season.

Plus, the two pitchers acquired for McCann -- Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman -- are young and raw, but talented. One or both of them could pay off at some point.

This is why you cannot fully judge the trade of McCann to the Astros from a Yankees point of view. In the short term, it is understandable that with such a demand for catching, it would stand to reason that New York could have received more in return. Instead, the Yankees decided to go forward on two players who, according to one scout, are "high-risk, high-upside types."

The Yankees are in full youth movement, leaving McCann with not much of a chair to sit on, unless you count the bench. Gary Sanchez is the new face of the franchise, which left McCann as a once-a-week backup catcher and a sometimes-DH. It is not the position he wanted to be in, so he waived his no-trade clause.

For Cashman, there must be another move. He just opened up $11.5 million in available dollars for each of the next two seasons. He eventually can use part of that to drop under the luxury tax.

For next season, though, he can sign Beltran to a one-year deal. Cashman can easily be the highest bidder, which would mean the Yankees traded a couple of months of Beltran for three prospects, including one who could be a high-end pitcher in Dillon Tate.

So before anyone fully judges the McCann trade, it would be wise to wait and see if there is a corresponding move. The easy and smart one would be to bring Beltran back. Then the McCann trade would make perfect sense.