The Astros search for a starting catcher may not include James McCann.
When the White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract earlier this offseason, it was speculated that they would look to trade their incumbent starting catcher James McCann. With the Astros still seeking a primary backstop, they would be a natural fit as a trade partner.
However, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has reported that the White Sox are not shopping McCann and would have to be blown away by an offer to trade him. Instead, they plan to utilize both Grandal and McCann by getting both players some at-bats at the first base and DH spots.
The 29-year-old McCann broke out in 2019 to earn his first All-Star appearance and slashed .273/.328/.460 with 18 homers and 60 RBIs, producing 3.8 WAR. He set career highs in pretty much every offensive category and is set to earn $5.4 million in 2020.
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In truth, this is a good luxury to have for the White Sox. Keeping McCann protects them in the event Grandal were to miss time with injury. Unfortunately for the Astros, this means one potential target is likely off the board, and the available options are limited.
The free agent market includes last year’s catchers Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado. Former Astro Jason Castro is also out there, and these three seem to represent the most likely options for the club to consider.
Welington Castillo had some good seasons in the past, but he’s coming off a tough 2019 and may be a bit of a reclamation project. The same can be said for Francisco Cervelli, Chris Iannetta, Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin and Matt Wieters.
Of all those names, there aren’t many I would be comfortable with as the team’s primary catcher. Chirinos would be first on the list, with Castro and Maldonado next in line. There are a number of teams looking for a catcher and the Astros cannot afford to wait too long.
With McCann not likely to move, the trade market for catchers doesn’t seem particularly robust either. At this point, the Astros would probably be best served by hammering out a deal with Chirinos, especially after he worked so well with Justin Verlander in 2019.