Wilson Ramos was the Mets’ main catcher throughout the past two seasons, He had his team option for 2021 declined as the Mets looked to go in another direction.
Mets Get Their Catcher
The Mets have been in desperate need of a starting catcher for almost two decades now since Mike Piazza‘s departure. If you’re looking at James McCann to be that guy, you’d be mistaken. However, that doesn’t mean all is lost. This move precisely allows the Mets to spend in other areas of the team, without spending $100 million+ to lock up say, J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto is most certainly the all-around better player, but if McCann is successful in replicating his 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the Mets will be better off.
Also, while Realmuto would’ve been a good move for the Mets, it makes more sense to use some of that money to sign multiple top free agents. For instance, the Mets are now able to sign say both George Springer and Trevor Bauer. That likely wouldn’t have been possible, as that would’ve resulted in three contracts over $100 million. Although money isn’t an issue for owner Steve Cohen, it’s a better tactical move for the club.
J.T. Realmuto has reportedly been asking for a seven-year deal of around $200 million. The Mets rightfully passed, if that’s the case, though it seems likely to have been an original desire. Either way, Realmuto likely wanted more years than the Mets would’ve been willing to give. That is anything above four years, which is why the Mets settled on four years with McCann. On one hand, it’s definitely a risky gamble for the Mets.
They are banking on McCann to perform to his offensive abilities from 2019-20 and also his defensive abilities from 2020. The Mets are golden if he repeats and even betters his past success, however, it isn’t a guarantee. What complicates things is that he hasn’t caught for a full season. Despite all of this, it was a risk that the Mets should be willing to take. This is because the Mets could use the money saved by not splurging on Realmuto, and spend it elsewhere. Also, the decreased term gives the Mets a transition period to Francisco Alvarez and thus not committing too long with J.T. Realmuto.
McCann to Serve As Stopgap to Top Prospect
Additionally, one of the Mets’ top prospects (many have him either #1 or #2), Francisco Alvarez, is a highly regarded prospect. James McCann will likely be in place as a stop-gap for Alvarez, whose estimated time of arrival is around the 2023-24 season. Alvarez signed for $2.7 million as the MLB Pipeline’s No. 13 international prospect, and he already looks like a star. He is already one of the more exciting players in the minors due to his combination of both offense and defense.
For instance, he has the bat speed and swing path to develop into a plus hitter. He also has a strong knowledge of the strike zone, which is unique for his age. Additionally, he moves well behind the plate even given his advanced physical stature. Lastly, he also has a strong and accurate arm, allowing him to control the running game. As a result, if everything clicks, Alvarez has the ability to be an above-average catcher on both sides of the ball.
He debuted in the Rookie Gulf Coast League and posted a 1.395 OPS in his first seven games. Then, the Mets sent him to the Appalachian League and subsequently became the league’s youngest player. Unmatched by the competition, Alvarez slashed .282/.377/.443 across 35 games as a 17-year old. Despite that, he has only had one full season in the minors. He will take the next couple of seasons to develop further as McCann leads the Mets behind the plate. Eventually, Alvarez will take over the catching position and be the Mets franchise catcher if all goes well.
Mets Just Getting Started
The Mets are just getting started following their acquisition of their new catcher. Although the Mets’ new starting catcher does not come without his flaws, the risk is worth the gamble. The Mets are going to trust the process, and while Realmuto would’ve been a significant upgrade, it would’ve tied their hands. Consequently, they are now able to turn to both George Springer and Trevor Bauer, who fit the next two most important needs for the Mets. This would of course be starting pitching and the center field position.
Behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, there’s a lot of uncertainty that lies. Trevor Bauer would sure up the Mets rotation and barring a Noah Syndergaard return sometime next season, the Mets could have the best top four in the league. As for center field, the Mets have been in desperate need of a true centerfielder. Brandon Nimmo has been good enough offensively, however, his defense has been a disaster. By turning to acquire the services of Springer, Nimmo could shift to left field. That would leave the Mets with one of the top outfield trios in the game. Of course, aside from that, the Mets also need to sure up their depth all around, and that includes the pitching and outfield.
Thus, the signings of May and McCann are just the beginning of an exciting offseason. Be ready Mets fans, this is a new era under Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson. While an offseason under the Wilpons would likely be completed with the signings of Trevor May and James McCann, this one is just getting started.