The White Sox didn't have to look far for catching help following the Omar Narvaez trade. They've reached an agreement with former American League Central foe James McCann on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. The club announced the deal on Wednesday.McCann is the second former Tigers catcher in three years
The White Sox didn't have to look far for catching help following the Omar Narvaez trade. They've reached an agreement with former American League Central foe James McCann on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. The club announced the deal on Wednesday.
McCann is the second former Tigers catcher in three years to sign with the White Sox as a free agent after leaving Detroit, following in the footsteps of Alex Avila. The Tigers non-tendered the 28-year-old McCann last month, making him a free agent after four-plus seasons in Detroit -- spending the majority of the time as the Tigers' primary catcher.
McCann is a prime bounceback candidate coming off some of the deepest offensive struggles of his career. He batted just .220 (94-for-427) in 2018 with eight home runs, 39 RBIs and a .581 OPS, 72 points below his career clip. Much of his offensive production came in the first two months of the season.
Though McCann has traditionally been known as an effective hitter against left-handed pitchers, he hit just .176 (18-for-102) off lefties last year with 30 strikeouts and a .514 OPS.
McCann's struggles coincided with an offseason workout routine last winter that added muscle and bulk to his frame in hopes of helping him stay strong through the grind of his season. In terms of durability, it helped; his 114 games caught and 112 starts were both career bests, the former ranking him third among AL catchers.
Defensively, McCann has consistently been among the strongest catchers in baseball at controlling the running game. He threw out 36 percent of attempted basestealers last season, eight points above league average, and owns a 37 percent career rate. His pitch-framing skills drew varied ratings: While his minus-11 Framing Runs Above Average ranked 67th out of 85 Major League catchers with at least 1,000 pitches caught last season according to StatCorner.com, he sat in the middle of the pack among regular catchers in extra called strikes above expectations according to the Bill James Handbook.
When the Tigers non-tendered him, McCann tried to take a positive outlook on a chance for a fresh start.
"Could be a good thing, could be a neutral thing, and that's something that only time will be able to tell," McCann said earlier this month. "Moving forward, I'm extremely thankful and grateful for the time I had in Detroit, and I'm excited to see what the future holds."
In Chicago, he'll be part of a catching mix with Welington Castillo, working with a group of talented young pitchers. He'll also have a chance to face a Tigers pitching staff he knows well.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.