Cardinals Rumors: St. Louis interested in catcher James McCann

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

It is no longer a sure thing that Yadier Molina returns to St. Louis, and the Cardinals are beginning to explore outside options.

With the Yadier Molina sweepstakes heating up, the Cardinals are beginning to examine outside options in case the 17-year veteran leaves St. Louis. Among the teams showing interest in Molina include the New York Mets, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels in addition to St. Louis.

Molina is no sure thing to return to St. Louis after months of speculation that a reunion was likely. And the Cardinals are among the teams expressing interest in free-agent catcher James McCann, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The other interested teams include the Yankees, Mets, Angels, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies if J.T. Realmuto departs in free agency, as expected.

Since 2019, only four catchers have been more valuable by fWAR (3.8) than McCann, hitting .276/334/.474 with 25 home runs in that timeframe. It is not surprising that the White Sox want to retain McCann, but it is highly unlikely he returns to Chicago with Yasmani Grandal entering the second year of a four-year, $73 million contract.

And it is not surprising that the Cardinals and other teams interested in Molina are expressing interest in McCann. He has broken out as a hitter and improved defensively, particularly with pitch framing. For St. Louis, who appear unlikely to enter the season with 26-year-old Andrew Kzizner as the full-time catcher, McCann would be a strong addition to replace Molina.

McCann, 30, would be a better fit for the Cardinals on a multi-year deal than Molina, who is reportedly seeking a two-year deal. He presents upside and offers the potential to stay with the club long-term if he produces. He is said to be seeking a full-time catcher position and if Molina leaves St. Louis, they could offer such an opportunity.

No deal is imminent, and it is unlikely McCann signs with any team until Realmuto is off the board. But if Molina does leave St. Louis, the Cardinals would be wise to pounce on McCann.