White Sox

After another productive game, James McCann is among the best offensive catchers in the AL

mccann-607.jpg
USA TODAY

After another productive game, James McCann is among the best offensive catchers in the AL

James McCann has been one of the surprises for the White Sox this year and Friday’s game added more success to his breakout season.

McCann had hits in each of his first two at-bats, including a two-out two-RBI double in the third inning.


After a 2-for-3 night, McCann is hitting .343. He doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, but he would be second. Players need 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify and he’s about 40 shy. Rays outfielder Austin Meadows leads the AL at .345.

McCann, who turns 29 in less than a week, is well above his previous career highs in batting average (.264), on-base percentage (.318) and slugging (.415). After reaching base three times in Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Royals with a single, a double and a walk, his slash line is .343/.386/.510. McCann isn’t just producing a career season so far, he is blowing away his previous four full seasons in the majors.

As the White Sox are making a push for McCann to make the All-Star Game, his stats do line up with the best catchers in the AL, but he definitely has some strong competition. Mitch Garver of the Twins and Gary Sanchez of the Yankees are ahead of McCann in OPS and Robinson Chirinos of the Astros is right there with McCann. It won’t be an easy case for McCann to get the nod to Cleveland.

Regardless, the White Sox appear to have found a solid catcher from an unexpected source. As the White Sox continue to bring prospects through the minors and to the big league club, catcher has remained somewhat of a question mark. Zack Collins was a first-round pick in 2016 and has an .883 OPS for Triple-A Charlotte, but there are questions about his ability to stick behind the plate defensively. Seby Zavala is another catching prospect in Triple-A, who even saw some time with the big league club in late May, but he struck out in seven of his nine plate appearances with the White Sox and is hitting just .231 for Charlotte. McCann appears to be giving the White Sox another option for catcher going forward.

 

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.

Where there's smoke, there's fire? Chasing big free agents all part of White Sox plan

Where there's smoke, there's fire? Chasing big free agents all part of White Sox plan

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For all the heat Rick Hahn has taken on Twitter over his comments that “the money will be spent” and “we belong at the table,” there the White Sox were as the annual avalanche of hot stove rumors came sliding down the side of Camelback Mountain on Monday in the Arizona desert.

That’s not to say that Hahn has suddenly delivered on his promise to reel in a premium free agent to team with the White Sox exciting young core. And the skeptics were as loud as ever after vice president Kenny Williams arrived at the GM meetings and teased a busier than usual offseason ahead for the South Siders.

But the suggestion that the White Sox will end up players for the likes of Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler or others — as was all described in one rumor or another Monday — is hardly crazy. This has long been the goal: to get a seat at the table, to spend the money and most importantly, to convert.

That last part, obviously, is the whole ballgame, and Hahn was the first to say, when Manny Machado opted to spend the next decade in San Diego rather than on the South Side, that it doesn’t matter how close the White Sox got. They didn’t get the player, and that counted as a loss.

Hahn also said, though, that all this would happen again, that the White Sox would remain aggressive in their pursuit of top talent.

“(Losing out on Machado) does not change the fact that we are going to once again be in this market when the time is right and hopefully, at that time, convert,” Hahn said the day Machado picked the Padres over the White Sox.

“The money will be spent. It might not be spent this offseason, but it will be spent at some point. This isn’t money sitting around waiting to just accumulate interest. It’s money trying to be deployed to put us in best position to win some championships.”

Hahn has long said that he’s hoping to smash the commonly held belief that the White Sox aren’t willing or able to pay top dollar to land a top-of-the-market free agent, admitting at the same time that reputation will stick until the team proves it wrong. The ultimately failed pursuits of Machado and Bryce Harper last winter were not the only opportunities to add that type of player to the rebuilding effort, and the list of the top free agents in baseball right now prove that true.

Rendon plays the same position as Yoan Moncada, but Hahn showed he wasn’t shy about pursuing that type of player last winter, chasing Machado while Tim Anderson had shortstop spoken for. Cole and Strasburg are expected to earn record-setting contracts as frontline starting pitchers, and Hahn has stated starting pitching is on his shopping list. Yasmani Grandal would look good behind the plate. Nicholas Castellanos would look good in the middle of the order. Perhaps the trade market, with J.D. Martinez and/or Mookie Betts potentially getting sent out of Boston, holds the key to the White Sox quest for a top-of-the-line player.

“No one should be surprised about seeing us involved with potential impact names,” Hahn said during last year’s GM meetings. Considering everything he’s said since, that holds true today, too.

“We belong at the table in these negotiations, we belong as part of negotiations for premium talent,” Hahn said at SoxFest way back in January. “And regardless what happens over the next several weeks with (Machado and Harper), we plan to be at the table and continue to attempt to convert on these guys.”

Fans still smarting from the way the Machado saga played out can choose to hold onto their preconceived notions until proven wrong. Hahn knows that will happen. But he’s followed through on his plan to build an exciting young core and followed through on his plan to create the financial ability to land big names. The missing piece of the puzzle is reeling in the big fish.

Time will tell if he can do so while fishing in this winter’s free-agent pond. But that he’s serious about trying? There should be no debate on that. Expect to keep seeing the White Sox as frequent players in the rumor mill this week and as the winter moves along. Expect the White Sox to keep talking about their quest to bring in that caliber of player.

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.

Eloy Jiménez finishes fourth in Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year voting

Eloy Jiménez finishes fourth in Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year voting

It looks like 31 home runs isn’t enough to even get you on the podium for rookie of the year. Yordan Álvarez won this year’s AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award by a unanimous vote, with the South Side’s own Eloy Jiménez coming in fourth place. This may come as a surprise to some Sox fans, who thought Jiménez would at least make the top three after making a splash in the latter half of his rookie season at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Jiménez led all AL rookies in home runs during the 2019-20 season. Jiménez is also one of only three White Sox to hit 30+ home runs as a rookie, alongside José Abreu (36 HRs) and Ron Kittle (35 HRs). But the stat that really makes Jiménez’s exclusion from the Rookie of the Year top three hard to swallow is that Jiménez is one of only 11 players in MLB history to hit 30+ home runs in his debut season.

Jiménez ended his season on an epic high note, batting .321/.355/.604 during his last 46 games. While this couldn’t get him the coveted Rookie of the Year title, we’re excited to see what Jiménez will bring to his sophomore major league season. 

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.