Orioles send De La Cruz to Mets to complete McCann trade

The Orioles completed last month’s trade for backup catcher James McCann by sending minor league infielder/outfielder Luis De La Cruz to the Mets today as the player to be named later.

De La Cruz, 20, spent the past two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He appeared in 33 games in 2022 and batted .291/.396/.349 with five doubles and 12 RBIs in 101 plate appearances.

De La Cruz was part of the July 2019 international signing class at age 16, the first under Mike Elias and Koby Perez.

McCann was acquired on Dec. 21, with the Mets picking up $19 million of the $24 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons.

Adley Rutschman was the only catcher on the 40-man roster before McCann’s arrival.

A backup competition won’t materialize in spring training. McCann, 32, has the job as long as he stays healthy.

Anthony Bemboom, Mark Kolozsvary and Randy Florentino are on Triple-A Norfolk’s roster, and Maverick Handley is with Double-A Bowie.

Robinson Chirinos broke camp last spring as the starter while Rutschman recovered from a strained right triceps, and he became the backup on May 21 with the top prospect’s promotion to the majors.

McCann hit .276/.334/.474 through 587 plate appearances with the White Sox between 2019-20. He made the All-Star team in ’19, when he posted career highs with 26 doubles, 18 home runs and 60 RBIs in 118 games.

The Mets inked McCann to a four-year, $40.6 million contract in free agency, but he slashed .220/.282/.328 over 603 plate appearances. He made two trips to the injured list last season, with a fractured left hamate bone in May that required surgery and a strained left oblique in June.

Besides backing up Rutschman, McCann also is expected to make some starts at first base after receiving five with the Mets in 2021 and one last summer.

“When I talked (to the Orioles) the night of the trade, talked about both Adley and I getting time behind the plate, first base, DH,” McCann said during a Jan. 3 video call.

“Whatever I can do to help the team, I’ll be ready to do it.”

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