Detroit Tigers: James McCann should be given a look in free agency

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers may need to add a catcher for the 2021 season; a reunion with James McCann may not be all that insane to suggest.

With the Detroit Tigers wrapping up their 2020 season, an early look into the offseason brings up the idea of a reunion with catcher James McCann. After the Tigers got an excellent 2020 showing out of Austin Romine, it may be worth exploring an extension.

However, the Tigers could take things up a notch where McCann rejoins the organization and provides a caliber of play that is a step up from Romine. After the 2020 season concludes, both Romine and McCann will be free agents heading into the offseason.

The Chicago White Sox will have to decide if they want to continue using Yasmani Grandal as a first base and designated hitter or move him to the full-time catcher position. While the White Sox have prospect Zack Collins who has poked into the big leagues, he struggled a lot.

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The Tigers, on the other hand, will have to decide if they want to bring back McCann, who has already spent five seasons with the organization.

He was a defensively inclined backstop who was exceptional for the Tigers organization.

McCann made $5.4 million with the White Sox during the 2020 season (pre-COVID adjustments), whereas Romine took home just $4.1 million for the Tigers. It would be a little bit of a rise in price but would be worth it.

The best part about bringing back McCann would be his ability to handle a pitching staff that would come in handy while the prospects are being phased into the big leagues.

With Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal in the big leagues, with other prospects poised for debuts, this is crucial.

Not to mention, McCann’s ability to call a game, get strike calls with his framing, tied for fifth-best in the league. Fans in Detroit know that McCann has the ability to nab baserunners as well, so adding this defensively-minded catcher is entirely worth it.

In 2020, McCann has played in 29 games, hitting .277/.340/.500 with six home runs and 14 RBI for the White Sox. In 2019, McCann was an all-star with the White Sox, hitting .273/.328/.460 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI over 118 total games.

Even though the Detroit Tigers have a capable catcher in Austin Romine, they should still explore bringing James McAnn back to Detroit.

While exploring a re-signing of Romine is worth a look, signing McCann and bringing him back to Detroit is an intriguing thought. Now, something to consider with signing McCann, even Romine, is the stunted development of prospect catchers.

In 2020 there was no minor league baseball, the Tigers did not get to see Jake Rogers take the field with Triple-A, and he did not warrant a call up to the big league club. Signing McCann would take the pressure off Rogers to find immediate success.

Do not let Rogers off the hook, one of the Justin Verlander trade centerpieces, he has struggled and has been unable to find his footing in the big leagues. Taking some pressure off of him to succeed might allow him to shake whatever is preventing the bat from coming around.

In a less than ideal world, McCann becomes the veteran catcher who is the bridge between himself and future top prospect Dillon Dingler. It seems that Dingler is going to be better than Rogers is, way too early to tell, but why not keep playing the hypothetical game?

Best case scenario, McCann creates a platoon with Rogers, who finds a way to settle in, in the batter’s box. Alternate best case scenario, McCann provides a bridge until Dingler rises to the big leagues as the catcher of the future.

Worst case scenario, the Tigers overpay for McCann and sacrifice a chance to get Rogers into the big leagues and try to force him to develop. Looking at all of this, the pros seem to outweigh the cons, given what McCann can bring to the table for the Tigers.

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When the offseason rolls around this fall, the Detroit Tigers front office should pick up the phone and give James McCann a call.