The first really significant free agent signing of the offseason is finally going down, and it’s one that’s been expected for a few days now: the New York Mets are opening their new owner’s wallet, and signing catcher James McCann to a surprisingly large deal.
Free-agent catcher James McCann closing in on four-year contract with Mets in $40M range, sources tell The Athletic. Talks are in final stages, deal will be pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2020
The $40 million-plus James McCann is getting is just a touch over 40 and includes a signing bonus, per sources. Two years after being nontendered by Detroit, McCann gets a long deal — in the last seven years, Yasmani Grandal is the only other catcher to get four — at $10M per.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2020
At age 30, Chicago White Sox part-time catcher James McCann put together an absolute monster of a season, raking at the plate and being a stud behind it. Were that all you had to go on, you’d think he was a superstar meriting a contract beyond even that of top free agent J.T. Realmuto.
But the performance before the shortened 2020 season is more mixed, as he had a decent year in 2019 (his first with the White Sox), following a long track record of being atrocious at the plate with the Tigers. Maybe he figured something fundamental out – catchers do often develop later offensively – but it’s still really surprising to me to see the Mets go after him so aggressively. They must really believe he’s a totally different guy now. I applaud the big swing, I suppose.
They do get him on a lower AAV than a top signing would normally get ($10M AAV is pretty darn attractive if you expect to be a team touching the luxury tax in the years to come), so that makes it a much better deal for the Mets, in particular, than a shorter deal with an only slightly lower guarantee.
Now we wait to see what else the Mets have in store, and whether their willingness to move aggressively on McCann portends a change in the market elsewhere (or if this was just a one-off). Meanwhile, Realmuto loses an obvious big-money suitor.