Mets trade McCann to Orioles for player to be named

December 22nd, 2022

NEW YORK -- Steve Cohen has committed to a historic player payroll in 2023 ... but he’s at least receiving a bit of a rebate.

The Mets traded catcher and cash late Wednesday night to the Orioles for a player to be named. To rid themselves of the underperforming McCann, a source said, the Mets agreed to pay $19 million of the $24 million remaining on the catcher’s four-year contract, which he signed before the 2021 season. But it will actually save the Mets $8 million due to the smaller Competitive Balance Tax bill that will result.

McCann became an unnecessary budget line for the Mets after they agreed with catcher Omar Narváez on a two-year contract last week. Narváez, a left-handed hitter, can platoon with either Tomás Nido or Francisco Álvarez, both of whom are right-handed.

Most likely, Narváez and Nido will make the Opening Day roster, with Álvarez entering the picture after he receives more defensive seasoning in the Minors. But Álvarez will have a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training, and he now has one less obstacle to overcome.

In effect, the trade solves two problems for the Mets: It makes their roster more efficient while also saving a bit of Cohen’s money. For the Orioles, it allows them to pair hotshot prospect Adley Rutschman with a veteran catcher at a fraction of McCann’s previous market value.

The trade occurred less than 24 hours after the Mets agreed to a 12-year, $315 million deal with infielder Carlos Correa, adding him to an offseason spending spree that already included Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Díaz, Justin Verlander, José Quintana, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson and Narváez. Those moves pushed the team’s 2022 payroll commitments to more than $380 million, shattering the Major League record. With CBT included, Cohen was set to spend nearly half a billion dollars on payroll.

Shedding $8 million in a trade won’t make much of a difference to Cohen’s bottom line, but it could give the team more flexibility for midseason additions. The Mets may also still acquire additional bullpen help before Spring Training.

McCann was one of New York’s most significant signings, when the Mets lured him to Flushing with a four-year, $40.6 million contract rather than pursue the more expensive J.T. Realmuto. Coming off a career year in Chicago, McCann floundered with his new team, hitting .220/.282/.328 with 13 homers in 182 games.

The Mets could still shed additional payroll if they find trade partners for infielder Eduardo Escobar or starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, but the team may ultimately find more value from those players than other teams are willing to offer in return.