James McCann

White Sox mailbag: James McCann's trade value and a Luis Robert-Cole Kmet swap

White Sox mailbag: James McCann's trade value and a Luis Robert-Cole Kmet swap

Going through April and May without baseball is awful. I hope we never have to do it again.

At this point, I’m still optimistic there will be baseball in 2020, and I know you have questions about the season. Let’s kickoff our first White Sox mailbag together:

Assuming the season starts at the beginning of July, when do you think Nick Madrigal would be the starter at second base? — David R.

This is a great question that is even more complicated now than it was back in March. Putting service-time issues aside, Madrigal still has more development to do at the minor league level, and now there might not even be a minor league season. So how does he go about getting that development? I’m sure that is a big question for general managers across the league right now as the owners and players try to hash out a playing agreement for 2020.

There’s been momentum building toward the idea of a 20-man “taxi squad” to complement 30-man major league rosters, but I have significant questions about how such a squad would work. How do you keep those players fresh? Considering pretty much all of them will be minor leaguers, how do you keep their development going? If you’re going to call up a pitcher from the taxi squad, how do you throw him into a major league game if he hasn’t faced a live batter since March? Those players need to be playing games in some capacity, perhaps back in Arizona.

Madrigal is close, but he didn’t have a great spring training and now he’s been inactive for two months. The White Sox will put him in the best position to succeed, and that will likely depend on this taxi-squad situation. If he can’t adequately develop at the minor league level in 2020, perhaps they’ll decide he can finish off his development in Chicago. That’s always risky, though.

Madrigal isn’t the only high-profile MLB prospect in this situation. You just hope their careers aren’t negatively impacted by this whole situation. My guess is the ones destined for success will figure it out, but you don’t want to do any long-term damage. At this point, I would still expect to see Madrigal in a White Sox uniform by September, but the longer this delay goes, the greater the chance his major league debut is delayed to 2021.

With the 20-man taxi squads, should we expect Andrew Vaughn to be a part of that? — Luke M.

I’m not sure I would expect it, but I wouldn’t rule it out either. It depends on the rules involving the taxi squad. Are the taxi squad players the only ones who will get any kind of development this season? If so, I would certainly put Vaughn on that squad. But will taxi squad players be accruing major league service time? I wouldn’t think so, but until that is hashed out, it’s hard to know for sure.

The bigger question is whether or not Vaughn will contribute to the major league club at all in 2020, and that seems like a long shot, especially when you consider he hasn’t been playing minor league games the last two months. Still, between the expanded 30-man roster and 20-man taxi squads, that’s 50 players to account for, and it’s possible Vaughn is included in that group.

RELATED: How White Sox could handle Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn in shortened season

What happens to one-year contracts for this year? Do they roll over to 2021? — Adam K.

They do not roll over. That was already negotiated in the March agreement between the players and the owners. So if zero games are played in 2020, a player like Mookie Betts will still hit free agency this coming winter and theoretically might never play a game for the Dodgers.

For the White Sox, it means James McCann and Alex Colome will hit free agency no matter how many games are played. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez will be arbitration eligible. Yasmani Grandal’s big four-year contract will just have three years left on it.

Some players will benefit by hitting free agency sooner. Others might lose more money because of the way their contracts are loaded in 2020. But overall, it was in the players’ best interests to accrue full-service time this year, and that’s what the MLBPA fought for and received in March.

Does McCann become more valuable on the trade market due to a shortened season? Do you think the Sox would change their symbol/jersey in the coming years? This is the longest they have ever kept one style. — Typical Sox Fan

Two-parter here, but I like both questions so it’s all good. Before I address McCann specifically, the idea of trades during this potential season is interesting. If players are all being tested the same way across the league, then it wouldn’t necessarily be a big issue to move a player from one clubhouse to another, but it’s a different story for that player’s family. People are still moving during this pandemic, but it’s not exactly ideal. There’s also going to be limited minor league development going on, so how are prospects going to be valued in potential trades? Every baseball rabbit hole I go down only generates more questions.

As for McCann, I’m not sure the value changes much. If catchers are valued more in a shorter season, then that also means McCann’s value to the White Sox increases. If there are fewer off days in the season, then McCann will be needed to spell Grandal more. Like any season, McCann’s trade value will depend on how he is playing and what position the White Sox are in when the trade deadline rolls around. Considering the playoffs could be temporarily expanded to 14 teams, there’s even more reason to believe the White Sox will be contenders this year, which means trading McCann wouldn’t make much sense.

As for the uniforms: Why change them? It’s hard to believe, but this is the 30th season the White Sox have been in their current uniforms. Considering their unis have changed so much over the long history of the franchise, 30 years is an eternity. But it also means they’ve found uniforms that work. The home pinstripes are a classic that withstand the test of time, and the current logo has been culturally significant and popular since it debuted in 1991. Too many teams struggle to find the right uniform combination and constantly change them because they need to. The White Sox aren’t one of those teams — not anymore.

That said, I would personally love to see the diamond sock logo return to the road unis and the script “White Sox” unis they wore from 1987 to 1990 used as throwbacks every once in a while.

Adam, you cover both the White Sox and the Bears. Which current White Sox player would have the best chance of succeeding in the NFL, and who on the Bears do you believe could make a living in MLB? — Legendary Chicago radio host Harry T.

Harry! Well, Adam Engel was a good enough high school football player that Bret Bielema offered him a scholarship at Wisconsin. Engel chose to play baseball at Louisville instead. But I once had someone tell me that if Luis Robert was born in the United States, he would be playing football at Alabama. I don’t think it was meant literally, but it speaks to his speed and athleticism.

As for the Bears, I’m going to keep working on Kyle Long’s baseball comeback with the White Sox. But since he’s retired from football, I have to go with rookie tight end Cole Kmet. White Sox scout J.J. Lally loved him coming out of St. Viator High School, and his comp for Kmet was Aaron Judge. That’s pretty high praise.

So how about a Cole Kmet-Luis Robert trade? Perhaps Robert could slide in and start at wide receiver right away. Pretty sure Rick Hahn isn’t making that deal, though.

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10 questions with James McCann, White Sox catcher

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NBC Sports Chicago

10 questions with James McCann, White Sox catcher

We've asking your favorite Chicago athletes 10 questions about what they're doing during the COVID-19 related stay at home orders.

This week we have Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann on the hot seat.

Chuck Garfien: Our first question is who are you hunkered down with and where are you?

James McCann: Alright, I am with my family, my wife Jessica and our twin boys Christian and Kane. And we are at our home in Franklin Tennessee.

CG: And if you had to be locked inside with one of your White Sox teammates who would it be?

JM: One of my White Sox teammates who would it be? I guess I’d have to go with probably Dallas Keuchel just because we go back so far.

CG: Ok. That’s the only reason? Any other reason why? Is he a good guy? I mean can you…

JM: Yeah he’s a.. I mean he obviously he’s an enjoyable person to be around. He’s got a good sense of humor and we just have history going back to college together. We have a lot of stories that we can reminisce on. So that would be why I would go with him.

CG: So what White Sox teammate have you stayed in contact with the most? If there is one that stands out.

JM: Probably Giolito and I guess Cease a little bit and Steve Cishek. I’ve kept in touch with him pretty much on a regular basis.

CG: So how are you staying in shape? Obviously you don’t have the facility there like you have in Arizona. And what kind of workouts are you doing?  

JM: So I’m, all the facilities are shut down here as well. So I'm lucky Ben Zobrist has a barn with a cage in it. So I get to go there and there’s a machine that has a feeder, it feeds itself, so I can do you know all my catching stuff, all my hitting stuff off the machine and I can go you know by myself. I don’t necessarily need someone with me. Then I’m mixing in workouts where I can. In the garage, you know makeshift workouts to you know little makeshift workouts in the barn with whatever I can find to use.

CG: How did that come about? Did you know about the barn or did you reach out to Ben? Did he find you?

JM: Yeah so Ben and I worked out together before he retired here just south of Nashville and he had always had the cage available to any guy that wanted to use it. And so and I saw that the facilities were shutting down, he was the first person I reached out to to make sure his cage was still hanging in the barn despite the fact that he was retired.

CG: Alright so have you attempted to learn a new hobby? I know you have two small kids, you gotta work on your baseball but you have some free time. Maybe you don’t. What have you been working on? Anything?

JM: Not not really. Just, we’ve actually tackled a few projects around the house that we haven't been able to in the offseason. Just our offseason gets to be so so busy between the holidays and training and taking care of other stuff. We’ve done some kind of spring cleaning type things around the house that kind of gets pushed to the side in the offseason. So if I had to say a hobby it’d be cleaning and organizing and taking care of things around the house.

CG:  Alright so what is your most treasured career keepsake that you keep in your house?

JM: My most treasured career keepsake. Well, I kind of got like a place for a memorabilia room but I haven’t gotten around to putting everything up. So I have, I mean I have all sorts of stuff. I have first career hit, first career homer, the lineup card from my first career game, from the first game I hit a homer in. I have a ton of signed balls and bats. I think the one that sticks out to me right now because it’s fresh in my mind is an Al Kaline signed jersey. You know there’s, I actually have several things signed by him that mean a bunch to me. He was a phenomenal person just being around him in the Detroit organization and the friendship that we ended up having. You know I’ve got a picture of us walking down the tunnel in Comerica Park with his arm around me. He signed it and wrote a note to me. So that’s a special keepsake. But what really sticks out to me is, I have two signed jerseys that he signed. One he made out to my son Christian, one he made out to my son Kane. And I had him do that because the morning that they were born, within you know them being born ten weeks early, within hours of them being born. He texted me to tell me that he had been praying for them all morning long. So you know, for them, they’ll never really know who Al Kaline was other than the stories that I tell them and what they watch. But having a hall of famer text their dad saying hey I’ve been praying for you this morning. I think that’s pretty special to me, I’ll remember that.

CG: Yeah, Al Kaline was a legend. He’ll always be considered a legend in Detroit. A titan for that organization. For anyone who played for them, like yourself, who got to meet him, what kind of guy was he?

JM: He was a better human being than he was a baseball player. And you know I was never privileged enough to see him play. I’ve seen you know highlights and pictures and stuff like that. I’ve heard stories. But just being around him and the human being he was. I can only imagine you know what kind of ball player he was when you hear the stories. He was, he was a phenomenal person. You know a guy who didn't have to go out of his way to do anything, he was Al Kaline, he was the greatest Tiger to ever be. He would seek out individual players, individual people, from you know the perennial all-star all the way down to the janitor. He knew everybody by name, everybody’s job title and he knew you know their spouse, their kids and he was very involved. He was a very humble and generous man.

CG: Anything you have, actually that you left back in your office. Meaning back in Glendale wish you had with you right now. Or did you take everything with you?

JM: I took everything that I needed with me. I mean I got extra bats, I’ve got my.. I left my game glove there, I took the two gloves I was breaking in, I brought them home. So I mean if I needed something it’d probably be my game glove but I left that there because it’s ready to roll whenever we do pick up.

CG: Ok, so do you have a go to quarantine meal? What’s number one right now?

JM: Anything on my Traeger grill. We've been, we’ve been really blessed with good weather here so I mean it’s literally been almost every night we’ve done something on the grill. From chicken, to ribs, to steak, to, we did baked potatoes on the grill the other night. We’ve just kind of been trying all sorts of things since we’re stuck in.

CG: Have you got any movies or tv shows or classic games that you’ve been enjoying during this time?

JM: Well we bought into the Tiger Kind hype and we watched that. We’ve kind of, there’s a show that we watch, we’ve been watching for years called the Blacklist we’ve been keeping up with that comes out on Friday nights. And then we’re watching some movies. My wife isn’t a huge movie person. So there’s a ton of movies. like classic movies, that I’ll bring up and she’ll have no idea what I’m talking about so we’re trying to catch up on some of the classics. Movies like Gladiator and you know The Patriot and stuff like that that’s not not necessarily a go to movie for a bunch of people but it’s classics that you have to see at least once.

CG: Alright do you have any favorite podcasts or social media follows during this time?

JM: Oh man. The only, the only podcast that I’ve really gotten into ever actually is call Order of Man. And it’s a gentleman who talks about what it takes to be a man. And he sheds a lot of light on being a father and you know helping you children, specifically your sons growing into the men that you want them to be. So that’s, when I get to a Podcast that’s the one that I’ve been, I’ve been going to. Social media, I just, I’ve been, I’ve been enjoying keeping up with teammates, and you know other guys around the league. The different challenges that have been going on from you know walk up song challenge to pose for a home run. Just different things like that that’s obviously bring guys and fans alike you know joy and getting to see different highlights and things like that.

CG: And do you have any toilet paper to spare?

JM: So we do have some toilet paper to spare. Thankfully before we left home for spring training we had just bought a big roll of toilet paper. So we had some extras and then my wife Jessica got up early one morning and went and stood in line at Costco just to get you know essential things and toilet paper happened to be one of things she came across. But she called me from line, she was out in the parking lot, you know social distancing, you know everything going on she’s like it’s crazier than Black Friday out here. Trying to fight these shoppers to get you know what you need.

More 10 questions:

- White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel sits down with our own Chuck Garfien
- Chicago Bears punter Pat O'Donnell sits down with Laurence Holmes
- Chicago native and comedian Sebastian Maniscalco

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Steve Cishek: 'I don't think I could' play season quarantined from family

Steve Cishek: 'I don't think I could' play season quarantined from family

There are a lot of things baseball would have to figure out before any of the reported plans the league and the union are discussing can get off the ground.

No concerns are more pressing than how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic evolves in the United States. Part of the plan involves frequent testing of players, coaches, team employees, and the small armies of workers who will be needed to transport and house a quarantined league, as well as those needed to broadcast games on TV. Baseball needs to make sure it is not receiving tests and medical resources while the general population does not have widespread access, as well as that conditions are safe enough for players to play without exposing them to the virus.

White Sox catcher James McCann said last week that baseball rushing back could be "a recipe for disaster."

But understandably, there is one detail of the reported proposals concerning players as much as any other.

Obviously nothing has been finalized, but one of the scenarios, which would involve quarantining the entire season in Arizona, involved keeping players' families away to reduce the number of people who would need to be tested and kept away from the general population.

And that idea is not sitting well with some.

"That would definitely be a major concern," White Sox relief pitcher Steve Cishek said during a conference call last week. "It kind of sits in the back of your mind where if they ask us to be away from our families for the duration of the season, I would have a hard time agreeing to play under those circumstances.

"I want to be with my family for the whole season. Not only do I not want to be away from them, I just wouldn't feel right leaving my family in the middle of what we would call a pandemic. I just don't think I would be a good husband or dad in that regard.

"Right now, it would be looking like I don't think I could do that."

RELATED: White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel enduring another troubling wait for baseball

While Cishek is taking a hard stance there — a reasonable one, at that — the players are open to ideas that can allow the 2020 season to happen in some form.

Both Cishek and McCann expressed their desire to get back on the field and their willingness to listen to ideas that would confine the season to one or two locations in an attempt to combat the spread of the virus.

But among the issues that could have a larger scale impact on the health and safety of the public and the players, they are rightfully thinking about those closest to them. Leaving our families during the most uncertain times many of us have faced in our lives would be a non-starter, and baseball players are no different.

"Being married and having two young kids, I'm not a huge fan of leaving them for, potentially, five months," McCann said. "If there was something on the table as far as, the first few weeks you're going to be on your own in isolation, but we have a plan in place for the entire country where things will open up, we can isolate for spring training, and then families will be able to join. That's a different story.

"But telling guys they have to leave their families indefinitely to then go isolate themselves, I don't know that that's the right answer."

It's a complicated puzzle for the league right now, trying to piece together a season under unprecedented circumstances, made even harder when the pieces are changing shape and not all present.

Having players' families present during the entire season throws another variable into the mix. The season won't be able to start until it's not only safe for players to compete and for all the above parties to work and live alongside them, but until it's safe for all of those people plus players' families to quarantine together.

Just considering this one potentially deal-breaking issue shows how challenging baseball's effort to salvage the 2020 season is.

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