The first free-agent position player came of the board Thursday, when two-time All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. It was a significant move for the Sox, who failed to lure top free agent Manny Machado to the South Side last offseason and complement their slew of prospects making their way to the majors.
While the Nationals weren’t rumored to be in on Grandal, there was a potential fit in D.C. if Grandal was willing to split time between catcher and first base. However, the eventual price tag was likely above Washington’s comfort zone, so it’s no surprise the team wasn’t in the running for his services.
But now that Grandal is locked into the starting catcher job in Chicago, the White Sox are left to decide what to do with the All-Star catcher they already had employed behind the plate.
James McCann played 118 games for the White Sox last season, hitting .273 with a .789 OPS and 18 home runs as he earned his first selection to the Midsummer Classic. Never considered a reliable bat in Chicago before this year, the White Sox could take advantage of his value and deal him to a team in need of catching help.
The Nationals fit that bill. Kurt Suzuki is signed for $6 million to play for the team next season, but he hasn’t played a full season since 2015 and will be entering his age-36 campaign in 2020.
Unless Washington is comfortable turning to unproven catching prospect Raudy Read to split time with Suzuki behind the plate, the team is likely on the hunt for a low-cost option to play a similar role to what Yan Gomes did in 2019. MLB Trade Rumors projects the 29-year-old McCann to make $4.9 million in what will be his last year of arbitration before hitting free agency, making him an ideal match.
The free agent market isn’t flooded with many other options at backstop either. Names such as Alex Avila, Jason Castro, Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Chrinos and Travis d’Arnaud are all available, but each is older than McCann and none of them are coming off a season as successful as his.
Chicago could of course opt to hold on to McCann, but his value has never been higher and the team gave former top-100 prospect and No. 10 overall pick Zack Collins a taste of the majors last season. If the White Sox do decide to deal him, the Nationals would certainly be well-suited to give them a call.
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