In a somewhat surprising move, the Pittsburgh Pirates have doled out their largest contract in history to now former New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin. This now leaves the Yankees without an everyday catcher and a real defensive force behind the plate. The question nearly every Yankees fan is asking now is, “who will be our next catcher?”
Well let’s start by eliminating any free agent possibilities. There are rumors going around that the Yankees did not offer Martin a contract because they did not have the money to match Pittsburgh’s offer. It appears very likely that the next Yankees catcher will come from their own organization.
They have three options.
The first option is Chris Stewart. Stewart served as the backup to Russell Martin last year, and did a fairly decent job. In 55 games last year, the 30 year old catcher hit .241 with one homerun and thirteen RBIs. However Stewart is reliable and calls a good game. Also as Michael Kay pointed out on Twitter a few days ago, there was a reason that Stewart was CC Sabathia‘s unofficial “personal catcher” last year. The only problem concerning Stewart is that he has never caught more than 67 games in a single season. It’s unsure whether or not he can handle the physical toll it will take to play around 120 games a year.
The second option is fan favorite, Fransisco Cervelli. After the Yankees acquired Stewart towards the end of Spring Training last year, Cervelli was demoted to AAA where he spent most of the season. Even as a September call-up, Cervelli only saw action in three games. Cervelli is more of an offensive prowess than Chris Stewart is, but it is also unknown if Cervelli can be the everyday catcher. The most games he has caught in a single season is 93 back in 2010.
The third and probably most likely option is Austin Romine. For many years, Romine was ranked behind Jesus Montero as one of the best prospects in the Yankees organization. He saw very limited time with the Yankees back in September of 2011 and did not put up great numbers. However, he is somebody that the Yankees have a tremendous amount of trust in. Although he was sidelined for much of the 2012 season due to a back injury, Romine did play in the Arizona Fall League and looked alright from the reports that I have read.
It will certainly be interesting to watch the catching batting unfold during Spring Training. However until that time, anything can and will happen – so stay alert Yankees fans.
Follow Hunter Farman on Twitter @hfarman1