As of now, the Yankees have Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Austine Romine and J.R. Murphy, all of whom are considered Major League ready. They also have Gary Sanchez, one of the most highly-touted prospects in baseball. There’s no reason for the organization to hang onto so many players at the same position, especially when the team needs help in the infield and the bullpen. The question then is not if the Yankees should trade a catcher, but which one?
McCann is totally off limits. He just signed a five-year, $85 million contract to come to New York and he’s going to be the starting catcher at least until 2017 (when Mark Teixeira’s contract is up and McCann can move to first base).
That’s perfect timing to develop Sanchez. There’s a chance the 21-year-old will be ready for the Majors by next year. That will allow him to play one or two seasons as McCann’s backup and/or platoon as a DH until he’s finally ready to take over as the starting catcher. Being that he is arguably the top prospect in the Yankees’ farm system and the “catcher of the future,” Sanchez is also off limits.
That leaves Cervelli, Romine and Murphy, the three players competing to be the backup catcher in 2014. Cervelli is 28 years old and coming off a PED suspension which might make him a lackluster trade piece. Plus, the Yankees could use him in 2014. Thus far in Spring Training, he’s emerged as the early favorite to be McCann’s backup. The Yankees are better off hanging onto Cervelli for this year and letting him walk when the season’s done to open up a roster spot.
Romine is only 25 years old but doesn’t have much of a bat. Compared to the other two, he’s not as good of a player as Cervelli is now but also lacks the potential growth that Murphy possesses. The Yankees should deal Romine if they can, but the way he’s played lately, they won’t get much for him.
Out of all the Yankees’ catchers, Murphy is the best trade piece. Offensively, he’s just about ready to face Major League pitching. According to scouting reports, his defense and game-calling need to improve, but he’s going to be 23 years old in May – he has plenty of time to develop these skills as well as every aspect of his game. Indeed, Murphy is expected to become a solid Major League catcher.
It will be difficult for the Yankees to part with a promising player like Murphy. He already has a spot in Yankees lore as the last man to catch Mariano Rivera. Nevertheless, he’s at an extremely crowded position and there are better options available.
Essentially, the team has McCann and Cervelli for right now and Sanchez for the future. Romine and Murphy are both expendable, and the latter would bring the greatest return.