Phillies to target James McCann if they lose J.T. Realmuto

The Phillies will reportedly target James McCann if they lose J.T. Realmuto.

The Philadelphia Phillies may or may not be in a financial position to re-sign perennial All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto this offseason. If the latter of the two scenarios holds true, the organization reportedly has its sights set on a “Plan B option,” who could replace him for the 2021 season.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies are among six teams believed to have interest in fellow free-agent catcher James McCann, joining the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals.

SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the New York Mets are currently after McCann, “more than Realmuto.” The Mets have long been considered a contender to sign Realmuto; if the Phillies division rival goes another route, that would only increase the odds that the “best catcher in baseball” returns.

The Phillies would only pursue McCann if they lose Realmuto in free agency, notes Heyman, who adds: “McCann is coming into his own with a 144 OPS plus last year. [The] White Sox like him, but realistically, he’s a starter.”

McCann has played his entire seven-year career in the American League, the first five with the Detroit Tigers (2014-18) and the latter two with the White Sox (2019-20). He saw decreased playing time in 2020 as the backup to two-time All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal.

With the potential Realmuto-less Phillies, McCann would return to the starter role, on the depth chart ahead of Andrew Knapp and Rafael Marchan. Replacing Realmuto would not be easy, but the 2019 All-Star McCann’s bat and glove would not be as drastic of a downgrade as would either Knapp or Marchan in the starter role.

McCann slashed .289/.360/.536 this past season with three doubles, seven home runs, and 15 RBI in 31 games. Behind the plate, he committed only four errors spanning 245 2/3 innings and 261 chances. Over the past two seasons combined, the 30-year-old has logged 25 home runs and 75 RBI across 149 games and 587 plate appearances.

It will be interesting to see how the Phillies roster rounds out ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater, Florida, in February. Who will be their starting catcher is among the top question marks that will have to be answered this offseason.