Heading into spring training the New York Yankees figured to see a lot of Austin Romine and Chris Stewart behind the plate as Francisco Cervelli was representing Italy in the World Baseball Classic. However, Cervelli, in an effort to try and lock down the starting catcher spot, has decided to forgo the World Baseball Classic.
This was a smart move by Cervelli. He is trying to win the starting catcher job and if he had been away he would have missed quite a bit f time which would have gone to Romine and Stewart. With solid springs either one of them could very easily have won the job which Cervelli is a slight favorite to win.
Cervelli has one minor league option left and had he left to play in the WBC he could have been facing an uphill battle. All it would have taken was a strong spring from Chris Stewart and either Bobby Wilson or Austin Romine and Cervelli could have been sent to Triple-A again like last year, something I am sure he didn’t want to happen.
The Yankees starting catcher spot figures to be the one camp battle that draws a lot of interest. Cervelli, who will turn 27 next month, might be the Yankees best option at the position, at least offensively. He is a .271/.339/.353 hitter with 5 home runs and 71 RBIs over 490 at bats. Stewart, 30, who arguably has the second-best shot to win the starting job, is only a .217/.281/.302 hitter and offers little offensive upside.
This is basically Cervelli’s job to lose. Had he joined Team Italy that would have seriously hindered his ability to win the job. This was a good decision by Cervelli.