The Mets entered the 2020-21 offseason in need of an answer behind the plate. After two seasons as the primary backstop in Queens, Wilson Ramos hit the open market. Entering his age-33 season with defensive question marks, Ramos didn’t profile as a long-term solution anyhow.
There was plenty of speculation heading into the winter about the possibility of New York making a run at J.T. Realmuto. The two-time Silver Slugger Award winner lingered longer in free agency than the Mets appeared to want to wait, though. Instead, they pivoted to free agency’s second-best backstop. In December 2020, they inked James McCann to a four-year, $40.6MM deal.
It was an eyebrow-raising investment. Heading into the offseason, MLBTR projected McCann for a two-year, $20MM guarantee. The Mets offered more than double that amount, betting that he’d broken out later in his career after signing with the White Sox before the 2019 campaign. Over two seasons in Chicago, McCann had hit .276/.334/.474 (114 wRC+). During the 2020 shortened season, his pitch framing — which had been below-average throughout his career — was graded positively as well.
The Mets clearly felt McCann had turned a corner, believing he’d developed into at least a capable #1 catcher. Unfortunately for the organization, his production dropped substantially during his first season in Flushing. The University of Arkansas product hit .232/.294/.349 (80 wRC+) with ten home runs across 412 plate appearances, less productive than the .229/.305/.391 mark (89 wRC+) compiled by backstops leaguewide. Statcast pegged him as a below-average framer, albeit only slightly. McCann’s 27% caught stealing rate was solid, but he didn’t match his 2019-20 production either at the plate or in the eyes of the public defensive metrics.
McCann’s 2021 dip could leave the Mets with an interesting decision. There are certainly reasons New York could opt to stick with him as the primary backstop. He’s due another $32.45MM through 2024, for starters. One could argue that investment has already been made and the Mets shouldn’t let it impact their decision whether to stick with McCann going forward, but they wouldn’t be the first team to give a longer leash to a veteran playing on a fairly notable contract. Even independent of finances, New York might simply believe McCann’s primed to bounce back. The Mets valued him enough last winter to sign him for a deal above expectations. He’s generally highly-regarded as a leader and for his ability to work with pitching staffs. That’s not an easily quantifiable trait, but it’s one organizations no doubt value immensely.
Yet there are also reasons to think the Mets may not be so patient. They’ve been one of baseball’s most aggressive teams this winter, signing Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha. It’s an absolute win-now situation, and owner Steve Cohen hasn’t shown many qualms about spending. The Mets already have a projected player payroll in the $263MM range (via Jason Martinez of Roster Resource), and they’re reportedly willing to push near the $300MM mark if the situation presents itself. New general manager Billy Eppler wasn’t part of the organization when McCann was signed. Nor was manager Buck Showalter (although team president Sandy Alderson is still around). It’s possible Eppler and Showalter aren’t especially bullish on the 31-year-old backstop’s chances of a rebound year.
Bolstering the starting rotation is likely to be the priority for the Mets coming out of the lockout, but making a move at catcher wouldn’t seem all that far-fetched. It presently appears to be the weakest position player group on the depth chart. The Mets are hellbent on winning in 2022 after missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. The other options on the 40-man roster — Tomás Nido and Patrick Mazeika — would probably be miscast as regulars. If Mets brass isn’t confident in McCann regaining his 2019-20 form, they could look into alternatives.
There’s probably no one available in free agency who’d be better than McCann. There could be an opportunity to explore a deal that brings in a new backstop via trade. Willson Contreras, for instance, is one of the likeliest players around the league to be moved before the start of the season. He’s only controllable through next season, but that kind of short-term add might be preferable for the Mets anyhow. Baseball America recently ranked catching prospect Francisco Álvarez the top talent in the New York farm system, among the top 15 farmhands in the sport. The Mets presumably view Álvarez as the catcher of the future, but he’s yet to reach Double-A and just turned 20 years old, so expecting him to make a big league impact this year would be optimistic.
Contreras, to be clear, is only a speculative possibility. There’s no indication the Mets and Cubs have discussed a deal. Yet a trade for a catcher could be a way for the Mets to make another bold strike after the transactions freeze, a chance to upgrade perhaps their weakest position on the diamond. Whether they explore trade scenarios seems likely to come down to how the organization feels about McCann after an underwhelming first season in Queens.
One of the worst teams in baseball
They haven’t reached the NLDS since 2015.
That doesn’t make them one of the worst teams genius.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Finish what’s on your plate, stick with McCann.
Steve is turning it around. World Series title by the end of 2025.
Cohen is just as incompetent as the Mets previous regime. He just has an unlimited budget, so they can quickly throw money at problems. How is McCann working out. 1 year in and he’s already a complete disaster. Lindor has the worst contract in baseball. Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper money for an average offensive SS. Would have been way better off waiting until this offseason to sign Seager, who actually resembles an elite hitter. Mets will be consistently running out a 250 million dollar payroll to win 87 games.
McCann is not a complete disaster. He’s a perfectly fine starting catcher in this day and age, he’s just overpaid. That’s nowhere near a disaster.
Also, McCann looked to be pretty solid coming off his contract-year-campaign with the ChiSox. Many did believe he was overpaid, but many also thought he had finally reached a new gear. Overpaid isn’t a problem for Cohen, especially at that amount. It wasn’t a Correa/Seager type deal.
In terms of the trade possibilities, I do wonder if there’s a potential matchup between Mets and Padres as they have three catchers, at least two of which who would undoubtedly improve the Mets catching staff (Nola & Campusano). Mets also have the financial resources to eat a Hosmer come tract and as we read, the DH is coming to the NL. Just pondering the possibility.
Yea I’m fine with the Mets catching situation but if they could pry a catcher from SD in exchange for taking on (and just releasing) Hosmer and maybe some lower bar prospect that could be nice. Really though, McCann, Nido and Mazeika are a fine trio, the team has other pressing needs (bullpen, one more SP, possible IF upgrade…)
That’s a great point too, Cosmo, because Nido’s defensive acumen is above many backup catchers. If McCann stays healthy there would really be no need. I pray each day the Yankees try to get one though because I cannot say the same about the Sanchino / Higgy combination as you can for the Mets catchers.
He had a negative bWAR. Keep telling us how great of a signing he was.
-0.2 … the state of today’s catching situation, I’ll take it. Our last catcher had pitchers afraid to throw in the dirt… an overpay for sure, but it ain’t my money and I’m not sure what else they could’ve done other than sign Realmuto which they probably couldn’t actually do anyway.
Yeah, and not just that, but if that’s a “bad” season for him, I think most teams would jump at that. Again, most saw him hurdle that next bar and believe he can do it again. Worse case scenario, Contreras is a FA in a year and Cohen is not afraid to spend money, right?
Dumpster Divin Theo
Boo. Can’t believe you shot Jetet
I wouldn’t say that. It’s definitely been poorly run over the years. But one of the worst? No. They’ve won 2 world series titles and a few NL pennants. There are a good amount of worse teams than the Mets.
I speak the truth
In the last ten years the Mets have won 48.7% of their games, made the playoffs 2 times and have won zero World Series. Over the last ten years the Pirates have won 49% of their game, made the playoffs 3 times and have won zero World Series. It looks like the Mets are worse to me. You want to go history?
Mets 59 seasons 9 playoffs 2 Championships
Pirates 117 season 17 playoffs 5 Championships. If the Pirates are a joke then so are the Mets. Keep thinking Uncle Steve will buy you a championship.
But the Mets ‘made it’ to the WS. Closer to Champaign than the Pirates were.
Going historic, how about this record most likely not to be beaten.
The Major League Baseball (MLB) record for most consecutive losing seasons by a team is 20 by the Pittsburgh Pirates (USA) from 1993 to 2012.
I speak the truth
You want to go history and records not likely to be broken? Okay, how about 40-120 in 1962?
not speaking the truth because you left out 2 other teams with worst season records so technically is it a record that stands if was not the record to begin with?
Well how about this one … when was the last time the pittsburgh pirates won a playoff series .(wild card games dont count because they are not series but just a game and in reality is it really a playoff or last chance to make it to the playoffs series?) … but that was back in 1979 .. The mets have won 2 world series since then and been in a couple others as well.
Since you like to look at the last few years the pirates are at 43% winning record and the mets and 48% for the last 5 years including last year for the pirates being a 100 loss season and the last 2 were under 40%
the pirates have only made the playoffs series once in the last ten years and lost to the cardinals. they lost the wild card game to make it to the playoff series in two others them.
If i were a betting person my money is to say the mets will be better and more likely to trend upwards. The pirates have become a laughing stock and a feeder to the rest of the league. Not saying the mets have been as bad as the pirates, but pirates have been there a lot longer and with the way it is going i dont see them being more than a AAAA team.
I speak the truth
You are correct the Pirates have been a joke for most of the last 40 years but to act like the Mets are some kind of model franchise is a bigger joke. The Mets just spend more money being a joke. I have more faith in the Pirates rebuild from the bottom up then Cohen’s over spending for past their prime players. We shall see.
You’re probably a Marlins fan.
Do you ever have anything positive to say? I mean I get it if you hate the Mets for whatever reason, but to say ridiculous things like that the worst team in the league is just not true. How about trying not saying anything at all if you don’t have anything positive to say? Asking for a friend.
Correction: I never said “worst team in baseball.” I said “one of the worst teams in baseball.”
Mets will stick with McCann until Alvarez is ready not year, I don’t see them trading a prospect or two for Contreras
Next year I mean we need an edit button.
Edit button comes on right after you post
Not if you’re using the phone app.
Yup using the mlbtr app on my iPhone.
Ahh, you are correct. From the phone your comment is locked. Steve, you stand corrected for half the users here.
They might be able to get Contreras for McNeil, Davis, or Smith.
Maybe a couple of them together
If that’s the case it’s a great deal for both of the teams involved.
Mets need a upgrade behind the plate
So does most of MLB. It’s not a big deal.
The World Series winner had Travis D’Arnaud behind the plate. ….the Mets could just stick with McCann ahd be better at Catcher than the Champs
Oddly enough, the last time the Mets made the WS, d’Arnaud was their everyday catcher. Maybe he’s the key.
But, it’s a low priority compared to several other needs. They need to decide what they are doing with the the players who don’t have locks on starting jobs: Cano, Davis, McNeil, and Smith. If they aren’t moved, on a given day, one can DH or cover for whoever is DHing, one plays second or third, and the other two are half the bench. They need tp replace the innings thrown by Familia and Loup and possibly improve up Yennsy Diaz as the 13th arm on the staff. They need to pick up another major league starter so that Peterson and Megill can be stretched-out minor league depth with options, who can be called on for a spot start without having to be passed through outright waivers to be demoted. Those needs may be met with trades or signings. If trades, then the team needs to restock the bench. After all that–or if the opportunity arises or some of those issues don’t get resolved before the season– it may be worth finding better catcher to cover the majority of games. Otherwise, the team is fine with some underproduction at catcher if the the rest of the starters have typical seasons and the pitching issues are resolved.
a little late to the party, but absolutely perfectly said. While payroll is already sky high, I can’t help but know that I’m going to feel like some of that “same old Mets” crap is still here, if we don’t add another SP, 2 RPs, and/or a PROPER “swingman” SP/RP type that is a veteran (but not OLD and on his way out), and has actual experience in that role, with good results.
Fortunately for us, there’s still plenty of options out there. I feel one of the As Manaea or Bassitt can be fairly “easy” to acquire via trade, especially if they get rid of Matt Olson & can build a package with Dom Smith going back to play 1st for them on the cheap.
Then, I’d actually like to see them more or less get whatever they can for Diaz in a trade if at all possible. I dont mind him, but championship caliber teams don’t have a such a limited situation, confidence killing, uncertain closer. Now while there may not be any closers really available (unless they overpay for Josh Hader of he’s still available like the last 3 seasons suggest lol), you can sign Chafin and even Hand, who did well for us, as well as Colin McHugh for the swingman role, and piece it together with a pretty good bullpen with a couple of guys who have closing experience, while looking for a trade midseason (I’m sure the Twins would be receptive or fully open to trading Taylor Rogers now & mid-season if they falter again).
I know that contradicts what I just said about championship teams & closers, but overall, that’d be a SOLID bullpen, best we’ve had in years, with, again, at 3 guys who have closing experience, and ice veins Drew Smith, whom I think will take an even bigger step this year and wind up falling in our lap as our full time closer, as soon as this year.
If they DONT grab 3-4 pitchers (with Chaffin and McHugh specifically being 2 of them), and they just grab a few minor league deal guys, a few “take a chance/rebound” guys, then I’m gonna indeed give them an INCOMPLETE/SAME OLD “WE’VE DONE JUST ENOUGH” Mets
This time around, I believe Cohen feels ‘challenged’ by the low returns last year, and is going to seriously stack the team. It’s pretty obvious the guy does not like to lose, especially with anything that involves his money. I have a feeling they’ve been working pretty much non-stop with Eppler and Alderson² to line up each and every thoroughly thought-out move, and have the three of them bang them out concurrently as soon as that bell rings and the CBA b.s. gets resolved. Any other offseason I’d be an idiot to be saying this. But the lockout was probably a godsend for them to prepare for exactly this.
The Padres, Phillies and Angels have tried to “stack the team” and have nothing to show for it.
Meta need more starting pitching depth. Not a change behind the plate. I didn’t hear one pitcher in 2021 complain about McCann nor Nido. Keep the pitchers happy. Last year other teams did not run on the Mets as in years past with Ramos or d’Arould. That was a big plus.
Yea, catcher is not one of the Mets problems right now.
Steve will take care of it.
Not sure if Contreras is really the answer
Contreras is really good and there aren’t alot of catchers you can say that about
Let’s sign another or trade for a starting pitcher first. Sign Schwarber. Sign everybody. Trade for everybody. Everybody on the Mets. Everybody.
– S. Cohen
Pimp Daddy Supreme
That would be nuts. They need two more quality starters and a lefty for the pen. McCann is serviceable enough.
Two more quality starters? That’s pushing it. They have deGrom, Scherzer, Carrasco, Walker, Megill and Peterson. They only need one more starter and that’s just for depth really. Bullpen needs tweaking but I don’t think they need two more quality starters.
All but 2 of those guys have injury concerns. They need more and they’ll probably get it
Doesn’t matter. You can’t carry eight starters and 42 guys on the 40 man because you don’t trust your pitches to stay healthy. Only so many roster spots. Most pitchers are an injury risk in one way or another. You balance the risk, you don’t plan on having ten starters in order to hedge against injury. Again, only so many roster spots.
If only teams could sign minor leave free agents for depth or trade guys from the 40 man to make room. It’s too bad that’s not something that’s available and happens all the time.
What the Mets need IS minor league depth. They have deGrom, Scherzer, Carrasco and Walker. That’s 1-4. Peterson and Megill compete for #5. Considering the injury risks involved and the uncertainty in performance surrounding the last two, it’s advisable to sign another starter, pushing Peterson and Megill, who both have options, to depth. There’s really no room for another MLB starter after that. If your top 4 guys are so unreliable in terms of health, then change those guys up, clogging the 40 man with backend of the rotation guys is a dumb plan.
You’re the only person who said anything about clogging up the 40 man for for rotation depth. You don’t have to read what I wrote, but it’s weird to reply if you’re not going to read the comment you’re replying to.
I read what you wrote and responded. I made my case. I’m confused at your objection. My point is: there are only so many spots for major league starters on a roster/40 man; can’t clog up those spots with plan Bs for the rotation because your whole rotation is injury prone. If your rotation is that unreliable then change the rotation. That’s my point, not sure where the wires are getting crossed up, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of your posts.
The 40 man roster is limited? For real? I thought they just said 40 for fun.
Again, you can have whatever opinion you want, I just don’t know why you reply to me if your opinion has nothing to do with what I said.
Again, I’m confused as to your objection. I’m just giving an opinion, I don’t see where I’ve gone off track in commenting, whether I’m directly responding to your posts or not.
Yes, I know that you don’t understand. What I don’t understand is why I have to explain this to you.
Now I’m really confused
James McCann is a solid all-around MLB catcher. Aside from his ability with the bat and glove he is a true leader on the field and with his pitching staff. The work he put in with Lucas Giolito with the White Sox alone is a testament to his character and value as a teammate. As good as Yasmani Grandal has been with the White Sox since McCann departed as a free agent there remains a strong faction of White Sox fans who would still prefer McCann to be their starting catcher.
I’m a fan of both catchers and was unrealistingly hoping that the White Sox could have worked out a way to keep both Grandal and McCann on the roster before the latter became a free agent last offseason. I believe the Mets would be wise to keep McCann as their primary catcher until top prospect Francisco Álvarez is ready for prime time come 2023 or 2024.
Ehhh he’s been pretty mediocre every year except for 2
Ok, so trade for Travis D’A. He’s a World Series winning catcher! ( I hope you know I am only kidding ) SteveMVP, you don’t need an All-Star at every position. You DO need someone the pitchers like to throw to and who is decent. The Mets should spend their money elsewhere.
I believe his offensive woes were due to hitting in front of the pitcher last year for the first time in his ML career. With no protection behind him, he got outside himself. and thus the offensive struggles. He also was facing most of the pitchers in the NL for the first time. Additionally, he was tasked with learning a new staff which may have been another cause, as he focused on that more than his offense.
I expect an offensive rebound this season
He’s been a bad hitter overall for his career
He had about 100 more PAs in spots other than 8 last year. He was pretty bad in 8th, though.
There is no decision to be made here. Alvarez is at least 2 or 3 years away. In-house options behind McCann are terrible. McCann’s contract. Contreras is a rental and the Cubs may want Alvarez in the deal
One year away
Alvarez is yet to reach AA. He’s more than a year away
Hey RSox, trade us Plawecki back?
I like Plawecki defensively. I think some of the pitchers prefer throwing to him as well.
Offensively, he can hot streak with the best of them. When he goes cold, it’s Sandy Leon brutal to watch…
Nido has improved w the bat and he is a very serviceable platoon. I’ve never been a McCann fan, but the Mets are likely stuck with him bc there just aren’t that many quality catchers out there. As for the Cubs wanting Alvarez, there is ZERO chance the Mets move him for a rental.
At least the Mets don’t have to watch Gary Sanchez strike out with RISP or ground into a double play with runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out.
And since Conforto won’t be on the Mets, they won’t have to watch him do the exact same thing
Ouch. True about Sanchez, but ouch! Yankees should have launched him for Realmuto when the Marlins were searching for trade partners for JT. Lost opportunity. Yankees should fire the scout that put his no-go recommendation on that one.
Craven, you forgot about the next half inning, where they don’t have to watch a fastball fly between his glove and the batter, to the backstop while runners circle the bases; or a slider that he tries to backhand without moving to block, and it looks more awkward than AaronBoone at a press conference.
Clip- his arm is plus. That’s about it. His framing and blocking skills are atrocious lmao.
The Mets might get a decent bump in production at C via regression to the mean. That is a thin group in the upper minors, though.
No… they’ll get by at catcher. All McCann/Nído have to do is catch. If you’re relying on your catcher for offense- especially since universal DH is seemingly eminent-and his name isn’t Bench or Piazza then your club is really in trouble.
Mets foolishly and for no good reason signed McCan’t to a 4 year contract. Now we all realize they are waiting for their fat top prospect to come take the reigns but still the 4 year pact makes little sense. This “top prospect” is nothing more then jesus montero lets just call a spade a spade here. If I’m the Mets I’d sell this fools gold to the biggest fools out there. Maybe try Seattle as the Yankees did? They are actually more desperate then the Mets.
Nido is a great match to McCann. When the latter signed, the former had already built a reputation as a solid defensive catcher. 2021 showed improvements as a hitter. McCann should never have been considered a full time catcher. But as a guy who plays 100 games a year, yeah he and Nido should bring out the best in each other. Down year last year. A bounce back is coming. And with Alvarez two years away, it’s a situation they’re going to need to accept.
Nido hasn’t really improved offensively. 2020 was a fluke due to a short sample size being skewed by one game. 2021 his OPS+ was 61, practically unplayable even for a catcher. But with the state of catching in today’s game his great D makes him a very good backup.
Mets clearly have a 3-year plan. They’re going all in for those 3 years. If McCann doesn’t improve by the All-Star break, I think they go in another direction.
He will be there past the all star break. His production last year was closer to average rather than a disaster. Chances are he will be at least average this coming season if games are played. I’m betting on season starting May 2nd.
Trade for Gary.
Jays have a good young catcher (kirk) and Mets have a spare 2b
Cano for Kirk!
Cano might get you McCoy (maybe even Sulu), but definitely not Kirk
Yanks Mets deal could work here:
Yanks send Hicks and Higgy to Mets and in return get McCann. Yanks save money on Hicks and Mets get a viable defensive minded catcher with pop and a switch hitting outfielder whose days in CF might be soon coming to an end.
While we certainly COULD use an upgrade over McCann, I’d put the chances of that happening, especially via a big trade at 1%.
McCann may improve a bit this season, but I doubt he will get back to his numbers those 2 years just before coming here. But he also has been reported in many articles & pre-game vignettes as being one of the absolute top, respected, team leaders, whom the rest of the team/youngsters listen to.
He’s been credited with bringing the guys together, and getting them up & out early, with purpose & energy, while being a motivator in workouts both on the field & in the weight room.
McCann also is a voice that matters right in the dugout & clubhouse. While that probably doesn’t warrant a 4 year 40 mil deal lol, it matters to the organization & we always look for a player or 3 like that, to improve team chemistry, attitude, & hustle.
Finally, the reason for the FOUR years is indeed because of Alvarez, who should be ready, right around that time. I can’t be certain, but I’m sure they looked the catcher field over, decided why scramble to get one for 2 years, only to have to get another one after that for another 2 years, when the kid is coming up, or have to push a guy like Nido into starting, who seems to have shown to be perfect in the backup role.
So long as the Mets improved offensively in other areas (and I think they did), they can live with McCann another 2 full years, and 1 probably part time year, because of those intangibles he brings
Not sure I agree with this article. Catcher isn’t an issue that’s in need. By the time he’s in his last year, Alvarez should hopefully be up. I think the situation is pretty good right now. Seem worse on most teams.
They really Don’t
I expect McCann to improve, but it continues to amaze me that GMs think players won’t regress at the age of 31. And have just signed 4 guys aged 33, 33, 33, and 37.
2022 NL East Standings…
Whoever they sign will suck and will be the reason they finish in 3rd place according to their fans