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James McCann, Mets Reportedly Closing in on 4-Year, $40M Contract Agreement

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2020

Chicago White Sox's James McCann slides into home to score against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning in Game 3 of an American League wild-card baseball series Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

James McCann is reportedly heading to the New York Mets.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox and The Athletic, McCann and the Mets are "closing in" on a four-year contract worth about $40 million. The deal is pending a physical.

McCann hit .289 with seven homers and 15 RBI in 31 games this past year with the Chicago White Sox, building upon his breakout 2019 season (.273 with 18 homers and 60 RBI). That made him one of the more appealing targets on the market for teams with a need at catcher. 

The former Detroit Tigers and White Sox star was an All-Star in 2019, though the gulf between him and fellow free agent J.T. Realmuto in the catcher ranks comes down largely to the latter's elite defense. McCann is not as distinguished in that regard as Realmuto, though he made strides in 2020. 

As Matt Kelly of MLB.com noted, McCann's framing in particular took a step forward:

"The data backs the work McCann put in. A scan through his hot and cold zones on Baseball Savant quickly identifies that he made up huge ground at the bottom edge of the zone in 2020, actually ranking just outside the top five catchers in getting extra strikes in the bottom-middle area.

"McCann's framing really stood out during Lucas Giolito's no-hitter when, according to Sports Info Solutions' Mark Simon, McCann got four strike calls on pitches that had less than a 50 percent strike probability." 

Matt Kelly @mattkellyMLB

James McCann's market is heating up, and it's worth noting that he went from a perennial bottom-of-the-league pitch framer to top-10 in 2020. Small sample? Yes. But Lucas Giolito's no-hitter gave a glimpse of how McCann improved on the edges. 🎯 https://t.co/tlNAFxIoAc

If the 30-year-old takes strides in that area, he could end up being quite the signing for New York. Regardless, his offensive output should justify his addition.

When the Mets chose to part ways with Wilson Ramos and Robinson Chirinos, it was clear they would be in the market for a catcher this winter. McCann will be an upgrade over both players and address one of the team's clear needs this offseason.

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