Could James McCann See Time at First Base?
So far this offseason, the Baltimore Orioles have added to the bullpen, rotation, and infield. They solved backup catcher recently as well, acquiring James McCann from the New York Mets just prior to Christmas. One thing that still needs to be resolved is what first base is going to look like behind Ryan Mountcastle.
Earlier in the offseason, I profiled a potential fit for Anthony Santander as a backup to Mountcastle at first. They added some minor league first base depth in the person of Franchy Cordero as well. But a fit at first that is flying under the radar is the new catcher, James McCann.
Baltimore Orioles: Could James McCann Share Backup Duties at First Base?
I'll preface by saying this: If Mountcastle hits the IL at any point this season, do not expect McCann to become the clear cut starter. I would expect Cordero to be called up at that point to start, with McCann and/or Santander likely still assuming backup roles. I do think that first base gives him more potential playing time, although Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman are still the clear cut starters behind the plate and at first. But with McCann able to hit lefties fairly well, this could be an avenue to get him and Rutschman in the lineup at the same time.
McCann has not played first base much in the majors, or even professional ball altogether. He got his first action at first since college in 2021 with the Mets, when a glut of injuries decimated their overall team depth. In that first game, McCann made quite the play in the second inning on a groundball.
He ended up playing six total games at first in 2021, going without an error and being responsible for five assists and was a part of four double plays. Last season, he manned first base in three games, two of which were the last two games of the season. He once again went errorless, adding two assists and two double plays. Yes, I know, it's not a large sample, but no mistakes were made. That's something to note.
To wrap things up, this is another situation similar to Santander's, where the Orioles could possibly work one or both of Santander and McCann out at first for an extended period at spring training and see if there's any value in having them back up Mountcastle come opening day. Santander doesn't have a lot of defensive value in the outfield, and McCann has actually played first in the major leagues before. It's worth a shot if you ask me.