Five months ago, the New York Mets let their homegrown star Jose Reyes sign with divisional rival, the Miami Marlins. In fact, the Mets didn’t even offer Reyes a contract. The reason was they–well the Wilpons, at least–didn’t have the money to. But with the lawsuit(s) against the Wilpons more or less settled, and their debts seemingly manageable (Bud Selig doesn’t seem to be worried), it’s possible the Mets might have some money to spend in the upcoming off-season. Given this, most fans will hope for a David Wright extension, but considering their lack of organizational talent behind the dish, the Mets should really focus their efforts on signing to-be free agent catcher Brian McCann.
McCann is not only one of the best overall catchers in the game, but also, one of the best overall players too. The 28 year-old ranks within the top twenty for cumulative fWAR (26.2 to be exact) from 2006 to 2011, and has also been elected to the All-Star game in each of those seasons (the former is slightly more indicative). During that span, McCann has averaged a .287/.359/.491 line with 22 HR, 86 RBI, 60 R, and 3 SB. On the defensive side of things, the Atlanta Braves backstop ranks fifth among all catchers (from 2006 to 2011) in CS% with an impressive 76.1% rate. And while his 37 passed balls might seem high, he’s also played around 2,000 more innings than most other catchers in those six seasons.
All this talk about Brian McCann is great, but don’t the Mets already have a starting catcher in Josh Thole? Well, who cares. This is not to say that Thole isn’t capable of being a decent starting catcher, but when a team has the opportunity to make such an impactful upgrade–by signing McCann, specifically–it would be foolish to shy away from it because of a low-ceiling option like Thole. Depending on how Thole does in the rest of 2012 (currently sporting a .284/.356/.370 line), perhaps he can become a trade chip for a prospective team looking to add a young catcher with good on-base skills. Hey, those don’t grow on trees.
Aside from pushing out Thole, there could be another hurdle from signing McCann. If McCann is so good, won’t he be overpaid in free agency? Considering that the likes of Chris Iannetta, Russell Martin, Miguel Montero, and Mike Napoli will too join McCann as free agent catchers, teams in need of backstops will have no shortage of options. In regards to picking the right free agent catcher from the bunch, McCann’s mixture of relatively young age (28), middle-of-the-order offense, and Gold Glove-worthy defense makes him the most ideal candidate for the Mets; a team that has truly lacked such a full package at catcher since Gary Carter. In addition, signing McCann would create a giant void in long-time division rival Atlanta Braves’ roster. And stinging a rival is always a plus.
Signing Brian McCann would be a no-brainer. As much as the Mets might miss having Jose Reyes atop the lineup, in some ways, adding McCann to the middle of the lineup makes up for the loss. With such an inking making so much sense, the ball appears to be in the Wilpon’s court.