The Mets made their first big splash of free agency Saturday, roping in former White Sox catcher James McCann on a four-year, $40-million contract (h/t to insider Ken Rosenthal, whose initial report has since been confirmed by Jon Heyman of MLB Network). New York’s reported acquisition of McCann, a one-time All-Star who achieved career-bests in batting average (.289), OPS (.896) and slugging (.536) last year, was weeks in the making. The 30-year-old had also been on the Angels’ radar, though the Mets were always the prohibitive favorites. Unless owner Steve Cohen wants to make McCann the most expensive backup in MLB, this likely ends the Mets’ pursuit of J.T. Realmuto, who most consider the top catcher available in this year’s free-agent class.
McCann isn’t a franchise-changing player by any means, though he should be a sizable improvement on Wilson Ramos, who hit an anemic .239 last season while also allowing an NL-worst 28 stolen bases. With Realmuto in pursuit of a market-setting contract, perhaps one as lucrative as Buster Posey’s $167-million windfall from 2013 or even the exorbitant, $184-million extension the Twins lavished Joe Mauer with in 2010 (still the high-water mark among MLB catchers), the Mets wisely pivoted to McCann, landing a player of All-Star caliber without breaking the bank.
Bankrolled by “Uncle Stevie,” the Mets plan to be big spenders this offseason and McCann is likely just the beginning with New York also making strong plays for former World Series MVP George Springer and reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. With Cohen’s wallet bursting at the seams (George Costanza can relate), Mets fans likely view McCann and fellow newcomer Trevor May as hors d’oeuvres, tasty appetizers to munch on while a Michelin-star chef prepares the main course (one of Bauer or Springer, if not both). Uninhibited spending isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for winning, but paying top-dollar certainly worked for the Dodgers (second-highest payroll in MLB) last year.
Many of McCann’s new teammates, including Jeff McNeil and Marcus Stroman, took to social media to welcome the Mets’ new backstop.
A native of Santa Barbara, the former Arkansas Razorback boasts a .249 career average with 65 homers and 252 RBI over 2,072 major-league at-bats since debuting in 2014. McCann’s departure from the White Sox leaves Yasmani Grandal to serve as Chicago’s primary catcher.