Good news about the Mets and free agent catcher James McCann agreeing to terms. With the other recent news that the Mets are close to naming their new GM, this hot stove season that seemed anything but hot a few days ago is finally gaining some steam. Looking at Mets Twitter, the general reaction seems to be one of happiness, although it's not universal, of course. I'm not sure there are many things in the world that you can get 100% consensus of Mets fans, we're just not built that way. I saw some tweets from fans that were very disappointed the Mets didn't seem to pursue J.T. Realmuto very hard. McCann might have been seen by most as the second best catcher on the free agent market, but he was a very distant second.
As for me, I like the move — as long as it is followed by the Mets doing everything possible to sign George Springer and/or Trevor Bauer. Hot stove moves aren't made in a vacuum. Choosing McCann over Realmuto only makes sense because it allows the Mets to add more players, and at least one of them needs to be a real impact player like Springer. As long as that happens, I'm all in.
Tim Britton had a good in-depth look in The Athletic at what McCann brings to the Mets. A lot of it is projection based on a pretty small sample size, so he's likely to be one of the first big tests of just how smart the new front office actually is. If Alderson and company had elected to sign Realmuto and things didn't go perfectly, it would have still been defensible — hey, we signed the best catcher on the market. Most fans would have accepted that. If the McCann signing goes badly for the Mets it's really going to impact fan confidence in this front office and, by extension, Steve Cohen. This was definitely not the safe choice. Cohen's universal popularity with the fans was never going to last forever, but this first big move under his regime surely is the end of the honeymoon for at least some fans.
Not that I'm a fan of the safe choice. I'm a fan of smart decisions that give the ball club as much flexibility as possible. I want to see a really upgraded club on the field next season, and I also want to see the Mets do everything reasonable to retain the services of Michael Conforto long term. Ditto Noah Syndergaard, depending on how his recovery progresses in 2021. While it would have been cool to see the Mets sign multiple free agents at the top of the market, doing so would have definitely made holding onto Conforto and Syndergaard much more difficult, maybe even not possible.
One thing that I'm really looking forward to with McCann is the strong reputation he has working with pitchers. That just wasn't the case with Wilson Ramos. With a catcher that pitchers really enjoy working with and some upgraded defense up the middle, I expect to see Mets pitchers flourish in a way they weren't able to in recent seasons.
I think a big question that the Mets need to ask themselves now is how much they believe in Tomas Nido as the backup to McCann. Nido worked with a swing instructor before last season and looked really good until his season was stopped by COVID, but that was only over 26 plate appearances. Before last season Nido just was your basic automatic out with a batting line of .187/.222/.291 in just under 250 PA over 3 MLB seasons. Even if they believe Nido's retooled swing can make him an adequate hitting backup, they better have a plan B and C as fallbacks.
My personal hope is that the Mets pivot and go hard on signing George Springer before Christmas. That would be a terrific present for Mets fans. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Welcome to the Mets, James McCann!
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