It was widely reported that the New York Mets were in on catcher James McCann — the second best backstop in this year’s free agent class, behind J.T. Realmuto.
The Washington Nationals are still in need of delivering a deal for a talented catcher.
Over the weekend, the Mets kept their options open by signing McCann instead of focusing on Realmuto, leaving the best catcher on the open market, but enabling the organization to have payroll flexibility to focus on other positions. That flexibility is precisely what I opined the Nationals should attempt to get. Despite that, I heard virtually no rumblings surrounding the Nationals and McCann and, as was expected, the catcher went to Queens.
Perhaps Washington had hoped somebody would move on Realmuto first, thereby giving competing organizations a better estimate as to what McCann should get. Instead, the McCann camp was able to draw first blood and earned a four-year deal with $40 million, seeming to fall somewhere within the realm of what was expected. McCann was able to use the lack of a Realmuto deal to his advantage in earning a bit more cash.
Now, with McCann off the board, the Nationals are still in the market for a catcher.
The best available catcher was, and still is, Realmuto, but allotting so much money to one position for an organization which needs a bit of flexibility to put together a contending team, signing him would be a mistake.
That’s why it was important to be in on McCann, but apparently, the front office didn’t feel the same way.
There are still cheap, veteran options on the board for the Nationals, so all is not necessarily lost in the nation’s capital. Some of those include former Nats, like Wilson Ramos and, of course, Kurt Suzuki; Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro are both on the board, and with both valued by Spotrac at under $4 million, could be a potential fit. Yadier Molina is also available, but with a valuation of near $10 million, he’s likely not worth it.
Regardless, the available catching class is now thin, to say the least, assuming the Nationals are out on Realmuto, which they should be. With all that said, if the Nationals think that the best path moving forward is to sign an acceptable veteran presence while prioritizing other positions, that decision could still yield positive results. But in order for this team to contend in a tough — and increasingly tougher — National League East, we should expect the Nationals to make at least one fairly significant splash before the dawn of the 2021 season.