The New York Mets are in the market for a catcher. However, their focus on James McCann instead of J.T. Realmuto is a mistake.
It is no secret that the New York Mets need a catcher. Wilson Ramos is a free agent, his struggles last season leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup. With a new owner in Steve Cohen who has vowed to turn the Mets into a large market team, the Mets are expected to be aggressive in filling those vacancies on their roster, including at the catcher position.
As expected, the Mets have been in hot pursuit of a catcher. As J.T. Realmuto is the top catcher available, and arguably the top free agent overall, it would make sense that New York would be heavily interested. However, they seemingly have their sights set on James McCann instead of Realmuto.
Over the past two years, McCann has been one of the better catchers in the game. He was an All Star in 2019 and one of the finalists for the Gold Glove this past year. Over his last 589 plate appearances, he has posted a .276/.334/.474 batting line with 25 homers and 29 doubles. McCann has made strides defensively as well, particularly with his pitch framing metrics.
However, it is not that long ago when McCann’s career was on the ropes. He had been a subpar bat during his time in Detroit, posting a 76 OPS+ despite his flashes of power. If McCann is truly going to get the four year deal that has been rumored, the Mets are making a major gamble.
That is particularly true when Realmuto is on the board. He is certainly going to cost more than McCann, but it is far less questionable as to whether or not he will produce. In his six years since establishing himself in the majors, Realmuto has produced a .278/.329/.456 batting line with 95 homers and 155 doubles. He has also established himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the game, a strong armed backstop who can shut down the running game with his presence.
In theory, signing McCann can make sense for the Mets. He would cost far less than Realmuto, allowing more resources to be allocated to other top free agents. However, that goes against Cohen’s statements that he would open the checkbook for whoever the best fit for the roster would be as they look to win a championship. The Mets can sign Realmuto and still have plenty of money left to go after any other targets they have in mind.