Mets fans had hoped their first signing under newly-minted owner Steve Cohen would be a big one, perhaps former World Series MVP George Springer or reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. Instead, New York went the more conventional route, bolstering its pen with the addition of ex-Twins hurler Trevor May earlier this week. That may have been an anticlimactic way to kick off the Cohen Era in Queens, though there’s something to be said for bullpen depth, especially in today’s game with starters rarely lasting longer than five innings.
So with May packed and ready to go on the 7 Train to Citi Field, what’s next on New York’s offseason agenda? That’s to be determined, though from the looks of it, the Mets have eyes for former Tigers and White Sox catcher James McCann, who achieved All-Star status as recently as 2019. An above-average hitter for the position, McCann logged a respectable .289 average with seven homers in 97 at-bats last season while splitting backstop reps with Yasmani Grandal.
While a serviceable MLB starter with plenty of good baseball ahead of him at age 30, McCann wouldn’t be as sexy a signing as say perennial All-Star J.T. Realmuto. In addition to being the top player available at his position, Realmuto also happens to be the league’s best catcher by a country mile, a rocket-armed, homer-mashing, athletic freak destined for free-agent riches.
After mercifully pulling the plug on their failed Wilson Ramos experiment, the Mets are ready to wipe the slate clean at catcher. With the deep-pocketed Cohen spearheading New York’s expected offseason spending spree, rebranding with Realmuto behind the plate was thought to be among the Mets’ top priorities. New York’s reported lust for McCann would seem to throw a wrench in that plan.
The Mets’ interest in McCann, first reported by FanSided’s Robert Murray and later confirmed by national reporter Jon Heyman of MLB Network, could mean one of two things. It’s either an admission of defeat, acknowledging that Realmuto’s price tag is too high, or a case of the front office, led by team president Sandy Alderson, casting a wide net in its free-agent search.
Championship-starved Mets fans surely prefer instant gratification with the team signing as many top-flight free agents as humanly possible. McCann may not fit that description, though he also wouldn’t make much of a dent in New York’s free-agent budget, allowing Cohen to plug the team’s hole at catcher while still satisfying the fan base’s thirst for expensive, household commodities (Springer, Bauer, Francisco Lindor, etc). Hope for an eventual Mets renaissance under Cohen will hinge on this delicate balancing act, juxtaposing huge names with lesser-known diamonds in the rough.
Remember, we’re still in the throes of rumor season—the hot stove won’t really get cooking until the Winter Meetings next week—so take every report at this early juncture in MLB free agency with a slight grain of salt.