The New York Mets made a smart move when they opted to sign James McCann to fill their hole at catcher instead of breaking the bank to lock up J.T. Realmuto.
While in Chicago with my mom in 2016, we went to see the New York Mets take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. While in the windy city, we also made a stop at Guaranteed Rate Field to see the Chicago White Sox host the Detroit Tigers. In the 5th inning, it began to downpour, causing a delay and eventually forced the umpires to call the game.
While walking down the exit ramp leaving the stadium, I heard a loud pop down below. I instantly walked over to the side of the ramp which overlooked the Tigers batting cage where someone was taking some pretty intense batting practice. It was raining so hard that I couldn’t make out who was taking swing, after swing, after swing, until I eventually realized who this crazy lunatic was, none other than James McCann.
I was in awe that after a game in which he started, McCann still thought he needed to put in more work, and in the rain nonetheless. I remember at the time thinking to myself that this dude was nuts but I admired how hard he was working and his determination to get better.
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The reason I bring up McCann taking swings in the pouring rain is to further prove the point that many people around baseball have tried to make clear, he’s a hard worker. Because of this, it’s easy to see why he’s been able to turn around his career after a disappointing tenure with the Tigers.
After being released by Detroit following the 2018 season, McCann joined the White Sox and combined to hit to the tune of a .276 batting average with 25 home runs over 149 games from 2019-2020. In comparison, over 192 games during the same time frame, J.T. Realmuto had a batting average of .273 with 36 home runs.
I’m not here to tell you McCann is Realmuto, but the production isn’t that far off and may even be considered better in some areas.
In addition to his drastic improvements in the batter’s box, McCann has continued to get better defensively as well. In only 30 games in 2020, McCann had 5 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Realmuto, on the other hand, accounted for -1 DRS in 36 games. McCann isn’t the box office name that Realmuto is, but it’s easy to see why the Mets were comfortable committing to Mccann for the next four years.
It’s fair to expect that Realmuto will get at least a five-year deal worth well more than $100 million. Considering that, the Mets would have been foolish to give Realmuto a deal of that stature as opposed to the 4 year/$40 million deal McCann received. If the Mets had decided to ink Realmuto to a deal as expensive as the one he’s seeking, the club would have been handicapped while trying to fill other needs. Now that they saved so much money with McCann, it gives them the opportunity to sign one, if not two other big-time free agents (hello George Springer and/or Trevor Bauer).
Would you rather have a combination of McCann, Springer, and Liam Hendricks, or Realmuto and Jackie Bradley Jr? I think that’s an answer that most Mets fans can agree on.
Yes, Realmuto is the better player with a much longer track record, but McCann isn’t a schmuck. He’s arguably the best catcher the Mets have had since Mike Piazza and although he’ll never be a force like Piazza was, he’ll still be very productive both at the plate and behind it.
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Like Sandy Alderson said in Steve Cohen’s introductory press conference, the Mets will be shopping in the gourmet aisle when it comes to free agents as well as stocking up on their meats and potatoes. Well, we’ve got our meat (Trevor May), and now our potatoes (McCann), it’s time to get fancy and start rolling in the gourmet entrees.