For Sox, McCann Could Be Trade Bait For Reliever

An All-Star in 2019, James McCann currently projects to have a limited role.

Bruce Levine
January 03, 2020 - 2:28 pm
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(670 The Score) Amid a busy offseason in which they've added two veteran starting pitchers and fortified their offense, the White Sox still have an area of need.

They need to strengthen their bullpen.

While there are more than 70 veteran relievers available in free agency, the White Sox could also look to the trade market to make a key addition to their bullpen. If so, catcher James McCann is a prime candidate to be dealt.

The White Sox's additions of catcher Yasmani Grandal and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion mean McCann projects to have a much more limited role. With his strong pitch-framing skills, Grandal will be the primary catcher. Encarnacion is capable of being the everyday designated hitter, and veteran Jose Abreu continues to man first base after signing a three-year extension with the team.

While McCann is a strong backup option as these players can mix and match between positions -- Grandal can play first base or fill in at designated hitter on days he's not behind the plate -- it seems that McCann will be the odd man out for the majority of games. That means he could be traded for bullpen help if the right deal materializes. 

McCann, 29, is coming off a resurgent 2019, when he was named an All-Star for the first time and hit 18 homers with 60 RBIs and a .789 OPS in 118 games. McCann had a strong first half in hitting .316 with a .873 OPS before slumping in the second half in hitting .226 with a .694 OPS. The White Sox also praised him for his quality work behind the plate and for his impact on their young rotation, as McCann had a good rapport with right-hander Lucas Giolito, who also broke out with an All-Star season.

McCann is working on a $5.4-million deal in 2020, after which he's set to become a free agent.

Shortly after the White Sox signed Grandal in November, general manager Rick Hahn contacted McCann to discuss the situation. The two have continued to have open lines of communication, but the handwriting seems to be on the wall. Trading McCann could be best for both parties. He could receive more playing time elsewhere, and the White Sox could add a needed reliever.

If the White Sox traded McCann, they could turn to Zack Collins as their backup catcher. He was a first-round pick of theirs in 2016, but the verdict is still out on him as a catcher. Collins hit well at Triple-A in 2019 but hit just .186 with a .656 OPS in 27 games with the White Sox.

Seby Zavala is another catcher on the team's 40-man roster who could be in the mix as a backup catcher, or the White Sox could look to sign a veteran on a cheap contract.

As the White Sox look to make their next move, keep your eye on McCann. Hahn has made clear that solidifying the bullpen is the priority now, and McCann could be part of the solution.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.