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Mets must use McCann deal as springboard to catch bigger free agent fish

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The New York Mets ruled themselves out of a free agency pursuit for J.T. Realmuto by signing James McCann. With catcher sorted, the onus is on the Mets to spend big elsewhere, and they are among the favourites to land George Springer and Trevor Bauer.

A multi-year deal for McCann came as a bit of a surprise. He’s a good defensive catcher who has improved at the plate, but he’s not Realmuto and a long-term deal raised eyebrows. It wasn’t the showstopper signing so many had primed themselves for.

Steve Cohen’s ownership isn’t going to be defined by reckless spending. That much has been made clear, though Mets fans will hope for bigger swings than McCann over the coming weeks and months. New York expects one of the big fish to land in the blue and orange half of the Big Apple.

With Realmuto off the board, the Mets’ high-profile free agent targets likely boil down to Springer and Bauer. Charlie Morton has signed with the Braves and Marcell Ozuna isn’t a great fit.

Springer or Bauer?

Springer is an odd one. The Mets ranked second in wins above average from the outfield last season, but Brandon Nimmo has proven to be well below par defensively. Nimmo was second percentile in outs above average in 2020. Springer remains a plus-defender, yet it’s reasonable to wonder how long that can last. The former Astro is 31 years old and will be looking for a multi-year deal – do the Mets risk a logjam in the corner spots?


Ultimately, 2022 and beyond doesn’t matter for a team like the Mets. They have the talent to win a World Series in 2021. Springer is a truly elite hitter – he was 96th percentile in xwOBA last season. Adding Springer makes the Mets a better team in 2021, and that’s enough to justify his signing even with above-average outfield options on the roster.

It’s impossible to have too many good starters. If the Mets added Bauer, they would arguably have the two best starting pitchers in the National League with Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard to follow. Bauer, like Springer, obviously makes the Mets better, but he will want handsomely rewarding after a Cy Young season.

Pitching depth, rather than top end talent, is the area of weakness. Would the Mets be better off signing a couple of cheaper pitchers rather than committing to the Bauer and Jacob deGrom two-headed monster?

If it’s Bauer or Springer, Springer is probably the better option. Cohen, of course, can sign both if he wants to. Or maybe they swing a big trade as well as a blockbuster free agent signing. The Mets are the story of the MLB offseason, they are the team everyone is watching, everyone is expecting big moves.

McCann’s signing might not be the most exciting. Yet it could be the start to a great winter if the Mets follow it up with the right moves.


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