The New York Mets have signed free-agent catcher James McCann. The contract is worth 40 million dollars over four years. This could be the first of several moves under the new ownership of Steve Cohen.
— MLB (@MLB) December 12, 2020
Mets Sign James McCann
McCann is coming off a strong year splitting catcher time with Yasmani Grandal for the Chicago White Sox. The 30-year-old McCann slashed .289/360/563 with seven home runs in 111 plate appearances. His 144 wRC+ ranked 11th among all catchers but was fourth among those with at least 100 plate appearances. He lowered his strikeout rate by 1.8 percent from 28.8 in 2019 to 27 in 2020, but he increased his walk rate from 6.3 percent to 7.2. That improved plate discipline on top of a few extra points of contact rate produced excellent results. It doesn’t hurt that his defensive runs saved stayed steady and the framing improved in a shortened season either.
The Detroit Tigers originally drafted McCann in the second round of the 2011 Amateur Draft. He accumulated over 1600 plate appearances as a Tiger before joining Chicago as a free agent after the 2018 season. His stats have steadily improved over seven years in the major leagues. The first full season of McCann’s career featured an 84 wRC+. That was in 2015. The same metric improved to 94 in 2017 and then jumped over 100 for both 2019 and 2020. He’s on a solid upward trajectory at this point in his career.
Where He Fits on the Mets
There is a very real chance that McCann takes over as the primary catcher for New York in 2021. The team received just .5 WAR from their primary catchers, Tomas Nido and Wilson Ramos, last year. Ramos is gone via free agency, so expect Nido to take the backup role for the next few seasons until he can take over or the Mets catching prospect Francisco Alvarez is ready. He should drastically improve the Mets’ catching production as they work for a 2021 playoff birth.
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