It’s time for the Mets to switch to Catcher | metsmerized online

At the time, it was a very controversial decision. When the Mets signed James McCann heading into the 2021 season for a four-year, $40 million deal, there was either intrigue or outcry from fans. The reason for the intrigue: The guy had been an All-Star in 2019, was hailed as an excellent defensive receiver and even showed pop at home plate with the White Sox.

During his time in Chicago’s Southside (2019 and 2020), McCann slashed .276/.334/.474 with 25 homers, 29 doubles, 116 wRC+ and 3.8 WAR. What’s not to like about those numbers from a receiver with strong defensive abilities as well?

The first signing of the Steve Cohen era was hailed by then-team president Sandy Alderson, who said in a statement: “James has established himself as one of the best dual-threat catchers of the game. His leadership and clubhouse presence were instrumental in guiding a young pitching team to the playoffs in 2020.”

Fast forward to 2022 and the Mets’ brief playoff series Tomás Nido, a career backup who earns less than a tenth of McCann’s average annual salary, was the starting catcher in all three Wild Card games. McCann was healthy, but Buck Showalter gave the nod to Nido in the playoffs. That should sum up what should be obvious by now. McCann’s stay in Queens is quickly coming to an end.

McCann never seemed to find his groove in New York. It’s been said time and time again that some players can’t handle the pressure of playing in America’s biggest city, and it looks like McCann is one of them. After stints with the Tigers and the White Sox, two franchises with lower expectations, New York has not been kind to McCann.

During his time in Queens, McCann seemed to regress, possibly due to bad luck with injuries. McCann missed more than two months in 2022 with a broken hand that required surgery. Then an oblique pull shortly after returning from the first injury causes a bit more wasted time.

Combine that with the obvious increased pressure of having the best prospect in all of baseball waiting in the wings, and the result was another disappointing season. McCann played in just 61 games, cutting .195/.257/.282 with just three home runs and 18 RBIs. All good for a measly 55 OPS+ and -0.1 WAR.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu – USA TODAY Sports

When McCann began to quiet down considerably at home plate, the narrative was that although he was not a good hitter, he still provided good defense. And, for the most part, that’s still true. However, McCann and Nido’s defensive stats show similar defensive performances.

Nido was a better receiver in fielding (seven catch points to McCann’s two) and defensive points saved (13 for Nido and five for McCann). However, McCann had a slightly better taken steal rate at 24% compared to Nido’s 21%.

The similar defense, combined with the bad luck of McCann’s injury, is likely why Nido became Showalter’s favorite receiver down the stretch. As well as the general flatness of the plate by McCann.

Looking ahead to 2022, the elephant in the room when discussing Mets receivers is Francisco Alvarez. MLB’s top prospect got a little taste of the big leagues at the end of 2021. While he’s shown flashes, he’ll need to make big, mostly defensive progress in the offseason to be ready for a bigger role. next season. However, the Mets have a solid number two in Nido, who has shown this season that he can provide useful receiver play for most of a season.

The Mets can add another veteran option at receiver to fill the gap, if needed, until Álvarez is ready. Nido can take over in the meantime, but as for McCann, his time in Queens appears to be coming to an end.

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