The Angels could use James McCann as a catching upgrade.
The Angels dealt Jason Castro at the trade deadline in 2020 and left the void to Max Stassi, a solid catcher who has shown potential, but is someone who is likely best served as a backup. Castro had been a very solid backstop for the Halos last season, but now they must look for another top option.
The most obvious choice of fans would be the consensus best catcher in baseball, incumbent Phillies catcher JT Realmuto. However, the Halos may be priced out of picking him up considering he is asking for a deal that totals above $200 million across its duration. While Realmuto is unlikely to wind up receiving that total, he is set to receive a monster deal from someone — the Angels should not be the team to dole it out.
Outside of Realmuto, the free agency class this winter does not present many outstanding options for catchers, but there is one with lots of intrigue. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Angels have demonstrated interest in former Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann.
While James McCann might not be the sexiest name for a catcher, most catchers are not the types of players who make highlight reels. The only genuine difference-making catchers in the game right now are the aforementioned JT Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, and the younger Will Smith among others.
For those who are unaware of who James McCann is, he is a backstop that is better than you think. The 30-year-old spent the beginning of his big league career with the Detroit Tigers where he spent many years as the backup to Alex Avila when he was in his prime. McCann was a fringe major leaguer for many years, posting no better 94 wRC+ from 2014 to 2018 with Detroit. However, tangible swing path changes have contributed to McCann’s career turnaround.
James McCann posted a 144 wRC+ in 31 games for the White Sox in 2020 while contributing solid defense behind the plate, evidenced by an 88th percentile framing mark from Baseball Savant.
While McCann is no Realmuto, the Angels could certainly use him as an upgrade over Max Stassi, a below league average hitter and very average defensive catcher.