The Mets have a catching issue heading into the offseason.
After declining the $10 million option for Wilson Ramos, the Mets are left with just Tomas Nido, Patrick Mazeika and Ali Sanchez as catchers on their 40-man roster.
It’s hardly a new problem in Queens, where the position has been something of a question mark since Mike Piazza left in 2005.
The Mets have tried the likes of Ramos and Travis d’Arnaud — and have seen d’Arnaud blossom elsewhere, most recently in Atlanta.
But rarely has their need of a replacement behind the plate figured so prominently in the team’s offseason outlook, with a clear urgency at the spot and one of the game’s best at the position, J.T. Realmuto, available as a free agent.
With Steve Cohen and his billions set to take over, the Mets could be players for Realmuto, whom they have seen often in his time with the Marlins and Phillies.
Two years ago, the Mets were seen as one of the potential favorites to land Realmuto when the Marlins were shopping him.
Instead, Realmuto ended up going to the Phillies in a deal that cost Philadelphia top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez.
That same offseason, the Mets nearly signed Yasmani Grandal, but ultimately ended up with Ramos.
Now, with Realmuto reportedly interested in staying in Philadelphia and “not particularly keen on playing in New York,’’ according to NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Mets will need a backup plan.
James McCann would almost certainly be on that list.
The 30-year-old McCann was an All-Star with the White Sox in 2019 after spending the early part of his career in Detroit.
Splitting time with Grandal in Chicago, McCann hit well again in the abbreviated 2020 season, but Ramos also had impressive offensive numbers before he signed with the Mets in 2019. And Ramos had a mostly forgettable time in Queens.
The unknown is just how much Cohen will be willing to spend when he takes over, and how quickly he’s going to spend it.
Because McCann would come at a significantly lower cost than Realmuto, it would potentially allow the Mets to address more holes on their roster — and there are more than a few.
Even with the Mets on the verge of entering the world of spending like a big-market team, they figure to have to choose among the likes of Realmuto and other high-end acquisitions, such as Trevor Bauer and George Springer.
None of the available backstops can match the production of Realmuto, who will turn 30 in March. He has been consistently excellent at the plate in each of the last three seasons.
No matter how it turns out, the Mets hope to end up in a better position than they were in after their last pursuit of Realmuto.
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