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Phillies expected to have interest in James McCann as fallback option


If J.T. Realmuto doesn’t return to the Philadelphia Phillies, the team appears to have a fallback option in mind.

James McCann is a free agent. (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

RADIO.COM MLB Insider Jon Heyman says that the New York Yankees, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox are interested in free-agent catcher James McCann. Heyman adds that “Phillies are also believed interested if they lose Realmuto.”

Of course, as managing partner John Middleton said in early October, retaining Realmuto, a two-time All-Star, is a priority. At the same time, Middleton cast doubt on how much the organization will be willing to spend in 2021 because of economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

The Phillies do need to be prepared in the event that they are unable to re-sign Realmuto this offseason. Nine-time All-Star Yadier Molina is seemingly an option that it would make sense for them to check in on, but outside of Realmuto, McCann is the best option available on the market.

Over the past two seasons, McCann, 30, has slashed .276/.334/.474 with 25 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .808 OPS in 149 games for the White Sox. While the White Sox seemingly would like to keep McCann, that seems far-fetched considering the team signed Yasmani Grandal to a lucrative four-year deal before the 2020 season.

One of the many dilemmas that could face the Phillies this offseason is that the markets for McCann and Molina could develop quicker than Realmuto’s. That means Middleton, president Andy MacPhail and interim general manager Ned Rice will need to keep close tabs on where they stand in the Realmuto sweepstakes. If things go south – or already have gone south – it will be interesting to see if the Phillies pivot and sign another catcher before Realmuto makes his decision.

Andrew Knapp had an excellent season backing up Realmuto in 2020, slashing .278/.404/.444 in the 60-game season. He’ll be an important part of the team moving forward, but either as the backup or the 1B option in a platoon, preferably. That said, if the Phillies wait on Realmuto to make a decision and ultimately he goes elsewhere, who knows what will happen.

Joe Girardi was thrilled with what Realmuto brought to the team in his first season as skipper, but acknowledged an uncertain future behind the plate earlier this month.

“I was around J.T. for 60 games, and I gotta tell you, I love having him. But so would everyone else, and that’s the difficult part for the Phillies, because he’s so coveted.”

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