At this time last year, it was looking as if prospects Zack Collins and Seby Zavala were positioned to be the White Sox’s catching duo when the 2020 season opened.
Much has changed behind the plate.
The Sox made a major move Nov. 21, signing All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract.
On Monday, the Sox and James McCann agreed to a one-year, $5.4 million deal.
Before Monday night’s deadline to offer contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration, the Sox declined to tender 2020 contracts to Gold Glove second baseman Yolmer Sanchez, right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Burr and lefty reliever Caleb Frare.
The Sox also released right-handed reliever Thyago Vieira, who will pursue an opportunity to pitch in Japan.
Grandal is the No. 1 catcher for next season and beyond, but McCann also is capable, and he gives the Sox an All-Star backup.
Signed by the Sox on Dec. 19 after being nontendered by the Tigers, McCann batted .273/.328/.460 with 26 doubles, 18 home runs and 60 RBIs in 118 games.
On the same day the Sox signed Grandal to the largest contract in franchise history, general manager Rick Hahn called McCann.
“Having multiple quality players at premium positions is a good thing,” Hahn said. “Yasmani provides us with some flexibility. While he certainly is a tremendous asset behind the plate, and I expect him to spend a lot of his time there, he does provide us with flexibility to have that bat in the lineup at [designated hitter] and at first base.
“James, in certain matchups, can DH as well. So having too many guys who are quality big leaguers is a good thing, not something we view as a problem. We want to provide [manager] Rick [Renteria] with enough flexibility and different options to set a quality lineup each day.”
McCann gets a nice raise after making $2.5 million last season.
As reported last week, the Sox placed Sanchez on outright waivers. The popular infielder would have been in line for an estimated $6.2 million deal if he was tendered a contract.
Winning a Gold Glove after moving from third base to second, Sanchez slashed .252/.318/.321 with two home runs and 43 RBIs The 27-year-old switch-hitter also struck out 117 times and drew 44 walks in 555 plate appearances.
Burr was 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in 18 relief appearances last season before having season-ending Tommy John surgery in June.
Frare spent most of last season with Triple-A Charlotte and had a 10.13 ERA in five games with the Sox.
Vieira was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in six relief appearances.
The Sox’s 40-man roster now stands at 36.