New York Mets fans are ready to move on from catcher James McCann. They also probably wouldn’t have much desire to bring back Steven Matz. However, both the Mets and Matz’s current employer, the St. Louis Cardinals, could help each other out a little bit or brush these two bad contracts under the rug and create new issues.
You may recall Matz almost rejoined the Mets last offseason before signing up for four years with the Cardinals. A contract which paid him $8.5 million this year still has three years left for a total of $35.5 million. Meanwhile, McCann’s deal is over after only two more with $23.3 million left on it.
It’s not a perfect swapping of bad contracts but could it be the start?
There aren’t too many bad contract swaps the Mets can make involving James McCann
The numbers on McCann and Matz don’t match up perfectly. However, if the Cardinals picked up the tab on Matz for 2023, it’s much closer. We’ll let the front office worry about the logistics of it. Perhaps a few other players get involved to make this a bit more even. Or, maybe, the Mets already would rather have three seasons of Matz than two more of McCann—their high-priced catcher they didn’t even start in the postseason.
Matz has also become pretty irrelevant for the Cardinals. He missed a large portion of the 2022 season and when he was on the field he was just 5-3 with a 5.25 ERA in 48 innings of work. The Cardinals used him exclusively out of the bullpen in his final five September appearances. Moving forward with him as one of their starters for 2023 would feel like a major step backward, too.
The Cardinals have options under contract already and reunion candidates like Jose Quintana to consider. They’re blessed with many younger pitchers than Matz to try out in the rotation. If there’s any sense of buyer’s remorse with him already, now could be the time for the Cardinals to strike and make a swap of two bad deals.
Their interest in McCann comes following the retirement of Yadier Molina. Instead of maybe signing Willson Contreras in a great free agent heel turn move, they go a different direction. The Cardinals do have catching prospect Ivan Herrera as a possibility. However, he doesn’t seem quite ready for the full-time gig. McCann, for a year, might be a better option for them as would trading away Matz where he could actually have a higher calling back in New York.
There are possible role for Steven Matz to fill on the Mets roster
Matz as a fifth starter for the Mets next season won’t get anyone too excited. However, there is another option. What if Matz becomes an expensive lefty reliever capable of going multiple innings? There are many more ways to use a starting pitcher on your roster than a catcher whose best days are behind him.
A return to New York could get the best out of Matz again where he takes on a role similar to the one Trevor Williams had for the ball club in 2022. He’s not an ideal member of the starting staff. The Mets could do worse. Plus, it would allow them to move forward and not get into a situation where they are carrying three catchers. Tomas Nido can be the primary defensive one with Francisco Alvarez getting his feet wet often and seeing regular at-bats as the DH.
Even if the final trade ends up increasing the payroll in New York, we have to remember this isn’t our money. Steve Cohen won’t let any transactions prevent him from spending further. In order for this to happen, he’d also have to have a little forgiveness.