What's better than one All-Star catcher? Two All-Star catchers.
The White Sox know how true that is, and so do their fans, who would like to see them figure out a way to hang onto the benefit of having both Yasmani Grandal and James McCann on the roster.
Grandal, of course, isn't going anywhere, not budging from his spot atop the White Sox depth chart after the team inked him to the richest free-agent deal in club history last offseason. McCann, on the other hand, is a free agent, in danger of departing for his own No. 1 job elsewhere.
Indeed, McCann has earned that opportunity, and it seems likely he'll get it. With several teams figuring to be in the hunt for catcher J.T. Realmuto, one of the top players on this winter's free-agent market, McCann awaits as a nice consolation prize. He followed up his All-Star season in 2019 with an even better year at the plate for the White Sox in 2020, making the most of getting into just 31 games by slashing .289/.360/.536. At a position where offensive production like that is often at a premium, that'll draw interest. So, too, will his dramatic defensive improvement from 2019 to 2020. He was a Gold Glove finalist, along with Grandal, this year.
The White Sox would like to bring McCann back, though it will be tricky. They can't offer him a No. 1 job. Is there a way to entice him away from such an opportunity?
Obviously, the money will have to talk. The White Sox would have to be OK allocating an awful lot of cash for one position, with Grandal already commanding one of the highest salaries on the roster. McCann figures to be offered starter's money by other teams. The White Sox would have to do better than that.
Trickier, perhaps, would be figuring out how to divvy up the playing time. Grandal's ability to play first base and an open spot at designated hitter makes it at least possible, basically employing a three-man rotation between catcher, first and DH involving Grandal, McCann and José Abreu. It keeps all the bats in the lineup, and the White Sox would always feel comfortable with whichever catcher is behind the plate.
Of course, that would potentially keep top ranked prospect Andrew Vaughn away from an everyday job for the foreseeable future and potentially block another big-hitting addition that could be made to fill the team's DH need this winter. More pertinent to McCann's thinking, however: Would he even want to be involved in such a setup? He's a team-first guy, no doubt, but few players sign multi-year deals to do a lot of DH'ing.
But it's that kind of commitment, both financially and with playing time, that would have to come from the White Sox in order to coax McCann back to the South Side.
Working in the White Sox favor is that they wouldn't have to sell McCann on the team's up-and-coming promise or the clubhouse culture because he's spent the past two seasons living those things. He had a positive review for the team's hire of new manager Tony La Russa. And the team holds him in a high regard.
"For us, Mac, we call him the captain," Lucas Giolito said in September. "One of the leaders of our team, vocally and by example."
Even with familiarity and the allure of competing for championships with this White Sox group, though, the front office would figure to have an uphill battle when it comes to convincing McCann to forego a chance to be a starting catcher in the big leagues.