What will the White Sox catching corps look like come Opening Day?
It's hard to say exactly, but they have a bunch of options — and seem intent on keeping it that way.
The team announced a one-year, $5.4 million deal with James McCann on Monday, avoiding arbitration a few hours ahead of the non-tender deadline.
Of course, plenty still wonder what will become of McCann after the White Sox gave free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal the richest contract in team history a couple weeks back. While it seems that having two All-Star catchers is an inarguably good thing, there have been queries as to why catcher was the position the White Sox addressed in free agency with so many other positions on the to-do list.
Grandal's acquisition stabilized a position that despite McCann's All-Star status was steamrolling toward 2020 with some huge question marks. McCann was deservedly invited to the Midsummer Classic thanks to a .316/.371/.502 slash line in the first half. But after the All-Star break, McCann slashed just .226/.281/.413, numbers far more reminiscent of his five years with the Detroit Tigers, which ended in him being non-tendered at this time a year ago. So which level of production will the White Sox get in 2020? It's an unknown. Grandal has a far longer track record of offensive success.
Of course, there are far more benefits to keeping McCann around for another year than simply the hope that he'll be more first half than second half. He earned rave reviews for his work with the pitchers and for his tireless efforts in game planning. He's a positive presence in the White Sox clubhouse and received a ton of praise from Lucas Giolito, who McCann worked with often during the pitcher's transformational season that saw him turn into the ace of the starting staff.
The White Sox can take advantage of those positives and consider any return to the All-Star level of offensive production a bonus, with Grandal figuring to get the lion's share of the at-bats in the No. 1 catcher position. If McCann is the team's No. 2 catcher, that means the White Sox have a catching duo to be really excited about.
"I’m sure he’s (saying), ‘Gosh, we just signed a guy and gave him a multiple-year contract. Where do I fit?’ Well, I made him understand," manager Rick Renteria said of McCann after the Grandal signing. "The conversation we had was, he knows how I feel about him. The whole organization knows how I feel about him. I love Mac, and I think that this addition does not detract from who he is and what he brings to the table as White Sox.
"I wanted him to know that we’re going to make this work. I think that all players when you make a change or add, they deserve to have a conversation with the man that is putting the lineup together. I just said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it. This will work itself out.’ It will. It always does. Things happen and right now this is a move that the organization felt that could us in a better position moving forward. Rick (Hahn) and everyone pulled the trigger, and we’re glad we did because we’re getting better."
Of course, the White Sox could also cash in on McCann coming off his All-Star season in a trade, should they find an opportunity to upgrade the roster elsewhere. While Zack Collins is even more of an unknown, considering his limited big league experience, the White Sox are searching for ways to get his bat in the lineup. He has faced questions about his defense since he was drafted, but he could take over the No. 2 spot behind Grandal, if need be. Collins could also be a third catcher, behind Grandal and McCann, if the White Sox decide that's how they want to use the 26th spot on the expanded rosters.
The White Sox also could keep all three and use them as part of a four-man rotation at catcher, designated hitter and first base with Jose Abreu.
On top of all that, the White Sox have two heretofore unmentioned catchers still on the 40-man roster, Seby Zavala and Yermin Mercedes, who could fit into this puzzle somehow, as well, depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out.
The point is that there are a lot of options, and that's now assured by the new one-year deal for McCann.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.