Should the Phillies set their sights on James McCann?

MLB: SEP 26 Cubs at White Sox
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 26: Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann (33) throws to 2nd during a Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs on September 26, 2020, at Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Sorry, Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto isn’t going to stay with the Phillies. If reports are true, Realmuto’s eyes are set on around $200 million for his next contract.

Joe Mauer holds the record for annual average value for a catcher with $23 million per year in his 8-year/ $184 million contract. That contract extension kicked in for Mauer’s age 28 season.

Before Mauer got his extension, he won the 2009 AL MVP award. He was named to 4 All-Star teams. He finished 4 times within the 10-top of MVP voting and won 4 Silver Sluggers and 3 gold gloves.

Mauer averaged $23 million a year during that extension. JT Realmuto will surpass that AAV and he deserves it. That extension happened 10 years ago. The market has evolved.

If it is true that Realmuto wants upwards of $200 million then there’s a better candidate for the Phillies.

James McCann

To many Phillies fans, James McCann may not be a familiar name. In his time with the Detroit Tigers, he only hit .240 with a .653 OPS. He didn’t give anyone a reason to talk about him.

That was 2014-2018. His 2019-2020 seasons have been completely different.

Since joining the Chicago White Sox, he’s become an All-Star, literally. In 2019, he slashed .273/.328/.460 with 18 HR and 60 RBI. He made the most of his All-Star game appearance, singling off of Brandon Woodruff in the 7th inning.

In 2020, McCann improved on that slash line in every category, slashing .289/.360/.536. He hit 7 homers in just 97 at bats.

Between 2019 and 2020, McCann and JT Realmuto match up favorably. From ’19-’20, Realmuto had a 112 OPS+. In that same span, McCann had a 114 OPS+. McCann had the advantage in batting average and on-base percentage while Realmuto takes the slugging crown.

Defensively, they match up even closer. In terms of dWAR over the past 2 seasons, McCann accumulated 1.7 dWAR and JT Realmuto had 1.8 dWAR. In 2020, JT Realmuto’s caught stealing % dropped significantly from 47% to 25%. McCann’s CS% was at 33%. In their careers, McCann actually has the higher fielding %, .995 compared to .993.

Price-wise, McCann would cost the Phillies significantly less more. JT Realmuto will most likely make at least $25 million a year. McCann probably won’t get any more than $15 million per year.

JT Realmuto is still the best catcher in baseball…but, James McCann is Realmuto light. The Phillies have too many holes in their bullpen to throw a ton of money at a historically mediocre hitting position. They’ll also have to address the shortstop position.

Although it will be unpopular, James McCann is the correct move for the Phillies.

Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire