Everyone made a big deal that the Yankees were going to start the season with Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli as their catchers. People projected historic bads and the combination of Stewart, Cervelli and now Austin Romine, have put up a .254/.321/.415 line, or a 98 wRC+, which actually ranks Yankee backstops as the 10th best in the league. Baseball is weird sometimes. Whether they can keep their productivity up over a whole season remains to be seen, but the bigger issue is actually whether or not they can sustain this for two.
The Yankees passed on several catchers this offseason that could have been more legitimate options, but Brian Cashman felt he had the cheapest and best players already on the team. That's not looking to change in 2014. As it turns out, most of the catchers they passed on signed one-year deals and will once again be free agents in the offseason. If they didn't want to sign the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto, Yorvit Torrealba, and Kelly Shoppach in 2013, they're not going to want to sign them in 2014 either.
This would once again leave them with Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, and Austin Romine as their options for the 2014 season. They could honestly keep this up until 2017 if they wanted to since neither Stewart or Cervelli are free agents until then. Thankfully, the Yankees have more prospects coming up the chain, but no one knows when they could be ready. JR Murphy, 22, is hitting .284/.375/.457 at Double-A this season and could make it to Triple-A by the end of the year, but his ceiling might not be much higher than Romine and his defense is supposed to be a work in progress. Reminder: The Yankees don't like shaky defense behind the plate. Then there's Gary Sanchez, 20, who is currently hitting .273/.351/.473 at High-A Tampa and could move to Double-A if Murphy gets promoted. He's the Yankees' big time prospect, but he might not factor into the 2014 season either.
If the Yankees want major league upgrades they could look at Carlos Ruiz, 34, who has been an above average hitting backstop or 29-year-old former All-Star Brian McCann. He's been one of the best catchers in the league, but has also been often hurt. Both would command some kind of multi-year deals and even though they might represent upgrades from the Yankees' MLB catching contingent, the team is not going to want to spend a ton of money when they can use league minimum players until their prospects arrive.
People took issue with letting Russell Martin leave without signing a viable replacement, but so far they have performed admirably. Sometimes players can have surprise years that exceed expectation; Pierzynski, with a lifetime 94 wRC+, put up a 119 wRC+ season in 2012 at the age of 35 and now, in 2013, he's back down to 83. Cervelli has a 135 wRC+ and Stewart has an 89 wRC+. Players can outperform themselves for one season, it happens, but can they keep it up for a second year? Gary Sanchez better be worth the wait.