The New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a trade swapping veteran catcher James McCann and cash considerations for a player to be named later, the teams announced Wednesday night. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Mets will remain on the hook for $19 million of the $24 million owed to McCann over the next two seasons.
We have acquired catcher James McCann and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for a player to be named later.— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) December 22, 2022
Welcome to #Birdland, James! pic.twitter.com/GoBKjlzvZm
McCann, 32 years old, is halfway through a four-year contract that guaranteed him more than $40 million. He's struggled since signing the deal, batting .220/.282/.328 (70 OPS+) with 13 home runs and nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks in 182 games. McCann earned the aforementioned contract during a two-year stint with the Chicago White Sox that saw him bat .276/.335/.474 (114 OPS+) with 25 home runs in 149 games. Clearly his offensive production wasn't able to withstand greater exposure as an everyday backstop.
The Orioles already have a franchise catcher in place, Adley Rutschman, suggesting that they view McCann as being worth the $5 million investment as well as the player to be named later. In other words, the Orioles deem McCann to be a worthwhile backup. They previously had no other catcher than Rutschman on their 40-player roster.
As for the Mets, they've been rumored to be looking for a potential McCann trade partner since signing veteran backstop Omar Narváez earlier this offseason. Even with McCann elsewhere, the Mets still have three competent backstops in Narváez, Tomás Nido and prospect Francisco Álvarez.
Moving McCann will reduce the Mets' Competitive Balance Tax payroll, if only by $10 million. Prior to the trade, the Mets had been facing a luxury tax payment of more than $111 million following an active offseason that had seen them sign Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and Carlos Correa, as well as re-sign Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo.