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McCann could end up as either one of the league’s best backups or a valuable trade chip.
The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher James McCann, signing him to a one-year, $5.4 million contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the news on Monday:
Catcher James McCann and the Chicago White Sox have agreed on a one-year, $5.4 million deal, sources tell ESPN. A little more than a year ago, McCann was non-tendered by Detroit. He will be a free agent after the 2020 season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2019
McCann made his first All-Star team in 2019, posting a .273/.328/.460 slash line with 18 homers over 476 plate appearances in his first season with the White Sox after five years with the Tigers. He’ll be eligible for free agency following the 2020 campaign.
The 29-year-old McCann’s role on the 2020 White Sox is unclear after Chicago signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal late last month. With Grandal’s ability to play first base — he played 20 games there for the Brewers in 2019 and has 70 games of major-league experience at the position — and José Abreu’s defensive deficiencies, it’s possible that McCann could be in line for 50 or 60 starts behind the plate even if everyone stays healthy. But even that feels like somewhat of a waste for a guy who was an All-Star while playing in 118 games in 2019.
There’d seem to be a likely possibility that the White Sox will try to market McCann as a trade candidate for teams in need of a starting catcher or full-fledged timeshare partner (the Rays, Astros, Brewers, Rockies, and Giants are among those clubs) this offseason, especially since there are no obvious starting-caliber catchers remaining in free agency.