James McCann’s contract with the Mets became official Tuesday afternoon, potentially solidifying the team’s catcher situation through 2024.
His four-year deal is for $40.6 million, a source said, the most expensive addition yet under new owner Steve Cohen. McCann will receive an average $10 million annual salary, plus a $600,000 signing bonus.
The Mets plan to introduce McCann in a video news conference Thursday.
Two years ago, McCann was cut by the Tigers. Now, team president Sandy Alderson called him "one of the best dual-threat catchers in the game."
"His leadership and presence in the clubhouse were instrumental in guiding a young pitching staff into the postseason in 2020," Alderson said in a statement.
Playing for the White Sox in 2019-20, McCann broke out, hitting .276 with a .334 OBP and .474 slugging percentage. His All-Star first half in 2019 yielded to a much worse second half, but he bounced back with a strong offensive campaign in the depreciated 2020 season.
Also during the shortened season, McCann, 30, rated well as a strike-framer for the first time. That pairs nicely with his career rate of throwing out 36% of would-be base-stealers, notably better than the league average of 28%.
McCann was widely regarded as the second-best catcher available in free agency behind J.T. Realmuto, who has a longer track record of success and is expected to receive a much larger contract. Alderson said Monday that the Mets had "really great" conversations with Realmuto but worked harder toward a deal for McCann in part because of timing.
"We have a number of needs, and we can afford to wait to fill some of them," Alderson said. "We can’t afford to wait to fill all of them."
The Mets also showed interest in free-agent catcher Tyler Flowers, a source said, but that appeared to be more of a backup plan to McCann. Flowers, a highly rated defender, was the co-starter for Atlanta from 2016-20. But given the emergence of Travis d’Arnaud as a power-hitting, strike-stealing stud, Flowers’ return is far from a given.