The news of James McCann’s signing with the Mets served as an especially welcome development for one member of his new pitching staff:
His pandemic battery mate.
“During the quarantine, he caught me twice a week,” Steven Matz told The Post of McCann, whom the Mets formally introduced Thursday after signing him to a four-year, $40.6-million contract. “I threw six or seven bullpens to him.”
The native Long Islander Matz and the native Southern Californian both make their offseason homes in the Nashville, Tenn., area and work out together as part of a group of ballplayers that also includes Mets reliever Brad Brach.
Though he neither lobbied the Mets to pursue McCann nor recruited the catcher on the team’s behalf, Matz said, “I was following [McCann’s free agency] all along, just hoping that we signed him because he’s such a great guy. He’s such a hard worker.”
This past year’s shutdown didn’t mark the first time McCann has caught Matz or Brach. As McCann said during his Zoom news conference of the two pitchers, “I’ve actually been catching their bullpens for the last two or three offseasons. So they’re guys I’ve already had a pretty good relationship with.”
“He’s caught a ton of my bullpens,” Matz agreed. “He knows how I pitch.”
Matz struggled through the COVID-reduced 2020 campaign, posting a 9.68 ERA in nine games, six of them starts. The Mets, prioritizing Matz’s pre-2020 performance over his poor small sample this past season, signed the left-hander to a pre-tender, $5.2 million contract for next season.
The signing of McCann, Matz believes, gives him and his fellow pitchers quite an asset.
“He’s got such a good reputation across the league, honestly,” Matz said. “It’s pretty cool.”