With the chances of JT Realmuto staying with the Phillies dwindling every passing day, they have to start thinking about who they can bring in to replace his production.
While I don’t think Realmuto is worth the supposed $200 million he is looking for, he’s still the best catcher in the game currently, and will be tough to replace with just one person. Re-signing Didi Gregorius is part of the solution to make up for lost production, but he doesn’t play catcher.
I don’t know about you, but, regardless of him having a nice season, I don’t want Andrew Knapp penciled in as my starting catcher. If you watch him for one game, you’ll see that he’s still one of the worst defensive catchers in the league.
James McCann of the Chicago White Sox is probably the second best catcher on the market besides JT. Over the last two seasons for the team on the South Side of Chicago, McCann has shown he deserves a chance to play everyday. He won’t get that type of playing time in Chicago, as they invested $53 million into Yasmani Grandal last offseason. Even the 1B and the DH jobs are taken, as Jose Abreu and prospect Andrew Vaughn seem to be destined for those roles. With 2020 throwing every team’s financials into disarray, it’s likely that Chicago won’t be able to keep McCann.
Spending money on four players to fill three positions would not be a wise business decision in this climate.
Adding the righthanded pop that McCann brings to the Phillies’ lineup would do a lot in filling the void left by Realmuto. In 2020, McCann slashed a strong .289/.360/.536 with 7 HRs and 15 RBIs, building on his strong 2019 season. He does strike out close to 30% of the time, however, in the new age of baseball that’s kind of the norm.
Plus, when you look at his numbers compared to Realmuto’s they’re quite similar over the last two seasons. McCann posted an OPS+ of 114 during 2019-2020, while Realmuto’s was 112. McCann has a higher BA and OBP during the last two seasons, while Realmuto has the edge in SLG.
And it’s not just McCann’s offensive prowess that makes him attractive, as he’s very capable behind the plate as well. We all know how good Realmuto is defensively, as he won the NL Gold Glove last season, throwing out a remarkable 47% of the runners attempting to steal on him. This year, that number dropped to 25%. McCann’s percentages were 31% and 33%, respectively, though his career number is a very respectable 36%.
McCann actually has a higher fielding percentage in his career, but take that with a grain of salt, as Realmuto has almost 1000 more innings behind the dish than McCann does. Many people within the White Sox organization credit McCann with helping star pitcher Lucas Giolito develop into the front of the rotation arm he is now. McCann was the one behind the plate for his no-hitter earlier in 2020.
Not reupping with Realmuto is definitely going to hard to swallow, as two years ago we gave up our No. 1 prospect and phenom Sixto Sanchez to acquire him. However, with owner John Middleton making a point of trying to reduce the Phillies financial expenditures, the contract that Realmuto is looking for will not help with that, especially with the other holes present on the roster.
Signing James McCann will help replace the production and his contract will be for much less guaranteed money than Realmuto. While he doesn’t have the same talent as Realmuto, McCann has shown that he is more than capable of being an above average catcher in this league. He deserves an opportunity to take the reigns of a team, and Philadelphia would be the perfect opportunity for him.
McCann won’t help the Phillies fans, including myself, get over losing a player of Realmuto’s ability, but at least he’ll be able to help make this team competitive in 2021.
The main goal is, and always has been get back to the playoffs, regardless of who’s on the roster.