James McCann is headed to the free agent market under much different circumstances than last time around. Non-tendered by the Tigers after a rough 2018 showing, McCann latched on with the White Sox and went on to give the South Siders a pair of very strong seasons — including an All-Star campaign in 2019. While he served as a backup to Yasmani Grandal in 2020, McCann still worked into the mix at DH in addition to his time behind the plate.
In an appearance on NBC Sports Chicago’s White Sox Talk podcast late last week (audio link), McCann discussed his return to the open market. Asked by host Chuck Garfien about how important it is for him to secure a starting role, McCann replied:
It’s something that I feel like I’ve earned in my career. I definitely think there is a lot that goes into that — being the guy and being able to run the staff. I do feel like that’s something that I’ve earned. But like I’ve said all along, I’m not burning any bridges, and we’ll see what the next few months hold.
McCann declined to delve into specifics when asked about potential clubs that might be fits or may have even already contacted him, instead just emphasizing the point that every team needs experienced catching.
While neither McCann or the White Sox is formally closing the door on their relationship, it seems hard to imagine a return scenario with Grandal signed for three more years. J.T. Realmuto is the top name on the open market, but McCann very arguably is the next-best alternative. He’s made huge strides both offensively and defensively since signing in Chicago, hitting a combined .276/.334/.474 with 25 homers in 587 plate appearances. He’s dramatically improved his exit velocity, hard-hit rate and barrel rate with the South Siders. After an offseason focused on improving his framing last winter, McCann posted career-best numbers in that department in 2020 en route to a Gold Glove nomination.
The White Sox obviously aren’t in the market for a starting catcher, but any of the Mets, Phillies, Rays, Angels, Rockies, Yankees, Nationals or Marlins could be expected to pursue upgrades over incumbent options. McCann declined to discuss contractual specifics, sidestepping a question about the possibility of taking a one-year deal in hopes of finding a stronger free-agent market next winter. “I think my play the last few years has put a value on me, and that’s where we are,” said McCann.
We at MLBTR ranked McCann as this offseason’s No. 16 free agent on our Top 50 rankings, with the team a two-year, $20MM contract prediction. It’s certainly possible that McCann could take home a three-year arrangement. He’ll be of particular interest for clubs that want an upgrade behind the plate but aren’t given ownership approval to pursue a mega-deal with Realmuto and/or may not want to try to lure a 38-year-old Yadier Molina away from St. Louis.
Rays need him
Totally agree but if hey didn’t pony up for D’Arnaud last year for 2/15, I don’t see them paying McCann what it would take. Zunino likely comes back on a lower deal than what his option was worth.
2 x 17 to NYM
Not that much $$. 2 x $12 or 3 x $10 should do it.
Total of 17MN for 2yr
I’ll take 2/$17.125MM
Hate to see him leave the sox. I thought he played better than grandal. I hope the sox find a way to keep him
This man deserves a starting gig. One of the best catchers in the game though he’s constantly underappreciated. Terrific hitter, and a good catcher too. NY Mets are the favorites IMO; I think Cohen is smart enough not to go after Realmuto when Mccann is on the market.
i think he can get 10 a year over 3. he’s not the best on the market, but he could be in most years where JT isnt on the market.
3 years x 25 million deal w/ the Marlins. Book it.
Please please please Mets go get this guy. And give him all the playing time he wants
I wouldn’t mind the Mets asking for Roberto Perez in a Lindor deal and just have Perez start.
Come home to Cali, the Angels need an every day catcher
eh, I like McCann but Stassi was pretty solid last year and is much cheaper. Need as much money as possible for the staff.
Stassi won’t be available until June. He had a nice year, but can he repeat it? Bemboom is the only catcher right now the Angels have going into ST. The Angels will need to add a catcher.
McCann is one of the few fortunate free agents this year who can afford to wait it out until his price is met (provided it is not unreasonable of course). There will be 10+ clubs that will show serious interest in signing McCann this offseason. He should easily get a 3 year deal, with a 4th-year option at a range of $8-$10M+ per year. The NL East alone has at least 3 teams that will go after him pretty strongly (Mets, Nats & Phillies should JTR leave). He might even be able to push his value up to 3/36 depending on how serious the pursuit gets.
Impressed with how he improved himself after the Tigers let him go.
Are you lol that always happens when you get a hitter away from “legendary loyd”
I could see 3/24 or 3/30 coming from a variety of clubs. He can certainly be patient and wait till JTR signs. His value goes up after that
He would most likely have to wait. The catcher market is going to revolve around JT.
I know it seems unrealistic, but the Pirates trying to sign this guy, would be a HUGE boost to that position. Stallings is the best man for the Pirates at the moment. McCann and Stalling duo, does sound appealing to me. Maybe a few extra wins from that type of move. 3/40 million contract to play in Pittsburgh, would be about the only chance he signs. Without extra dollar signs, he goes somewhere else like Philly
James McCann contributes a ton to this rebuild and I wouldn’t be surprised if CWS find a way to keep him on a 2-year.
His story began as a team leader that night in 2019 when he went full Darth Vader at third base, running Vlad Jr. down at second!
McCann is my favorite breed of player. He is hard-working, modest, and seems to put the team first.
I’d imagine he wants to stay on the Sox (especially with Giolito), but this is his best chance at a big contract.
Best wishes wherever he ends up, but hopefully he has a soft spot for the Sox.
I think would be a good fit too but what about Pedro.
Perfect storm for the sox to re-sign him. He’s necessary for Giolito’s success. Give him 2/20 or 3/30, nobody else is coming to the southside anyways, might as well keep what they got
Trade Zach Collins.
Pay McCann. C or DH daily. Will save his knees and extend his career.
McCann come to the Yankees. Cashman get rid of Sanchez NOW!!!!
McCann is a longshot to return to the South side. Come to Colorado and help our beleaguered catching corps.
I keep thinking Atlanta would be a good fit for him. Especially being 4 hours from Nashville.
A year on, a team that signs McCann as the primary catcher is likely disappointed. He had a job share in 2020, starting all of 27 games. I wouldn’t put much faith in his defensive metrics for that small of a sample size. Nice hitting, but he never faced the grind of a full season, as was the case with all catchers, hence the aggregate OPS+ from the position ticked up. In his breakout season in 2019, after a blistering start, he hit a very James McCann-like .231 with a .285 OBP with an OPS in the upper .600s over the final three months.
I’m not here to bury McCann, not at all. He can help a team and is improved, but probably not to the level assumed. He’d work well splitting time or as a heavy rotation BUC. Full-time catcher? Buyer beware.
Tigers paid Romine over $4M last year so McCann will get plenty more than that. But not from Tigers bc I suspect GM AA wants to bring back AA jr.