James McCann will be entering his fourth season as the primary catcher for the Tigers. He has steadily improved his game in each of the last three seasons.
Last year, the 27-year-old set career highs in home runs, runs, RBI, OBP, wRC+ and fWAR. He had the highest line-drive rate and hard-hit rate of his career as well.
McCann falls in an interesting spot amongst the Tigers rebuild. He is under team control through the 2020 season, per Spotrac. At just 27, it is possible he could be held through the rebuilding years and be a part of Detroit’s return to playoff relevance in 3-5 years.
However, McCann could be pushed out in the near future to make room for stud catcher Jake Rogers and/or prospect Grayson Greiner. Both are a year or two away from being in the major leagues, but McCann might be viewed as a placeholder until they are ready to take over behind the plate.
Ultimately, McCann’s future with the team will likely be determined based on how well he performs in the next year or two. With steady improvement already occurring for the backstop, hopefully he can continue to improve and either be a part of the team’s future or bring in a big haul of prospects when the time comes.
For next season, expect McCann to continue improving. With limited competition behind the plate, a healthy McCann should accrue over 400 at-bats. It’s entirely likely he will post 15 home runs and a .260 average. With his solid arm behind the plate, that should put him in the 2.0-2.5 fWAR range in 2018.