In the free agency era of the New York Mets from the late 1970s onward, the catcher spot has been mostly occupied by a mix of guys we had low expectations for or ones who surpassed what we thought they could do. The organization has been great at developing players and picking the right star players for the spot.
Unfortunately, there have been some misses along the way but none on the same scale as the worst free agent catcher bust in franchise history. You know him and you grieved every at-bat. It’s James McCann.
James McCann is the worst free agent catcher signing in Mets history
A four-year deal worth $40.6 million is how it started. A trade to the Baltimore Orioles after the 2022 season is how it ended. McCann joined the Mets in December 2020 when the team had an opportunity to spend significantly more on fellow free agent J.T. Realmuto. Rather than buy who could turn into some weaker years at the end of Realmuto’s contract, the Mets went for the shorter and far more affordable contract with McCann.
After two seasons of Wilson Ramos behind the plate, it seemed like McCann would be an upgrade. At the very least, McCann wouldn’t have starting pitchers begging to pitch to the backup.
For two years, McCann was a decent defender but often overshadowed by the backup, Tomas Nido. The problem was the Mets were paying him to be more of a two-way player than just a good defender that pitchers enjoyed throwing to.
In his 603 trips to the plate spanning two seasons, McCann batted .220/.282/.328 for New York. The performance was worse than what he did in his early days with the Detroit Tigers where he wasn’t regarded as a good offensive player. He’d appear in just 61 games for the team in 2022 due to a mix of injuries and poor performance. McCann hit only .195/.257/.282 in his second year with the Mets. They chose to go in a different direction.
McCann joins the list of MLB players getting paid by their former club while being employed by another. The Mets are responsible for another $19 million of his salary through the 2024 season. Between Francisco Alvarez and Kevin Parada, fans are already hopeful the club won’t have to dip into free agency again anytime soon.