Met fans have known strife for a long time now. Offseason anguish is an old friend who arrives during the holiday season and overstays their welcome until Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training. You could say that Met fans suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, but really most of us just deal with the Hot Stove SADs, otherwise known as “Signing All Duds.”
How often have you heard of the Mets being in on signing a big-time free agent only to realize they were going to sign Jed Lowrie? Every year. It’s every year. In the Brodie Van Wagenen years, we wouldn’t do just that, we’d send prospects away for nothing.
However, in the advent of Steve Cohen’s purchasing of the Mets from the Wilpons, in what feels like a real life Daddy Warbucks adopting Annie moment, that SAD feeling might be on the way out. All of that depends upon how we react to the first big signing, whoever it is.
And that’s where James McCann comes in.
When Uncle Steve took over, every single one of us felt the warm light of freedom on our faces, and our hearts grew three sizes that day. What also grew were our hopes at some big-ticket free agent signings. More specifically, we all wanted J.T. Realmuto.
There are two big-ticket Free Agents that the Mets could benefit from and they are 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto. With the Mets having serious difficulty behind the plate, to the point where it was stunting the growth and progress of their insanely gifted rotation, Realmuto seems like a godsend. And with Steve Cohen looking to make a splash as the newest MLB owner, this could be the moment Met fans have been waiting for.
The Mets have also had a string of almost last-ditch reactionary catcher moves. When Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t hold runners at first, they signed René Rivera. In the offseason, they signed Wilson Ramos. They then brought in Devin Mesoraco and even traded for Robinson Chirinos. All the while, catching prospects like Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido failed to develop into suitable replacements.
The Mets seemed to be a waypoint station for wayward backstops. And with the embarrassment of riches that is their starting rotation, it’s time they invested in a good catcher. Imagine deGrom with Realmuto’s game calling. or Syndergaard with Realmuto’s arm, or Stroman with Realmuto’s framing.
Realmuto doesn’t just make the Mets better, he makes them an immediate contender.
However, what James McCann gives the Mets is payroll flexibility. While Uncle Steve seems primed and ready to open his wallet for players in a “Win-Now” mentality, that’s just not smart. Instead, invest in players both on the market and the ones you’ve grown within the organization.
Signing Realmuto might close the door on other deals down the road, while signing McCann opens up doors in the short-term. Realmuto’s potential deal seems to be evaluated somewhere in the 5-years, $125 million dollar range, whereas McCann lives somewhere in the 4-years, $60 million neighborhood.
For those of you playing at home, that’s almost a $12 million dollar a year difference for two catchers going into their thirties, a time when most All-Star catchers drop off.
James McCann fulfills a roster need, while Realmuto fulfills what the fanbase wants. There’s a distinct difference. Sometimes the best player isn’t always the best fit for a team (looking at you Bronx Bleacher Creatures). It happens a lot. And for some teams who shell out big bucks for a big name, it doesn’t always pan out as one would hope.
The signing of Realmuto would put a serious strain on the Mets’ finances both short-term and long-term, while McCann still leaves some money in the coffers. With said remainder, the Mets could extend Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, or even Marcus Stroman.
They could toss that money right back into the market and snag George Springer or even add Trevor Bauer to the rotation.
The “want” is a competitive ballclub with good players, the “need” is for good ballplayers to make your club competitive. One signing does each for the Mets.
If I’m making the call, McCann’s the target so we can do more with the money we have. Simple as that. We’ve spent the last few decades with penny-pinching owners, and now we have to split the difference between that and impulsive over-buying.
James McCann fulfills the Mets need and then some without breaking the bank, which at the end of the day, should be all we really want in a free-agent catcher.
Update: The Mets and James McCann are close to a 4-year deal worth more than $40 million, per Jon Heyman.
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