Trading Francisco Cervelli for Gordon Beckham would be an awful deal

your savior - Rob Tringali

There's no harm trying to deal from a position of strength for a solution to the questions surrounding the infield. Well, there's harm if the player received in return is as terrible as Beckham.

Francisco Cervelli's hot start to 2014 on the heels of a similar hot start last year have reportedly sparked some trade interest in the 28-year-old catcher. After going through an ugly 2013 behind the plate, the Yankees suddenly seemed to have a position of strength when they signed All-Star catcher Brian McCann over the winter. Now though, the 40-man roster is crowded with catchers, as five of the players on it are catchers: McCann, Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine, and Gary Sanchez. Therefore, it makes sense to deal from this excess in order to improve the infield, which arguably has question marks of varying degrees at each position. Murphy and Sanchez are sure to attract interest since they were both well-regarded young prospects last year, but it seems as though some teams might be interested in Cervelli, too.

In a recent article, Joel Sherman mused about the Yankees possibly trading Cervelli to the White Sox for second baseman Gordon Beckham:

Francisco Cervelli is having a strong camp. His reputation already was for strong defense and he has three homers this spring. Catching is in short supply and he could start for some teams, including the White Sox. A deal built around Cervelli and Chicago’s Gordon Beckham is not impossible.

It's a nice thought to think the Yankees could get an infielder for Cervelli, but Beckham is not an infielder that anybody should really want. Sherman even notes in the article that the 27-year-old Beckham hasn't cracked a .700 OPS since 2009.

Beckham was a top-ten overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft out of Georgia, and he made his MLB debut just about a year later in June of '09. Drafted as a shortstop, he played third base in his first full season, which was actually pretty successful; he hit .270/.347/.460 with 28 doubles, 14 homers, a 109 wRC+, and 2.5 fWAR. Beckham finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting, and it's been all downhill ever since.

The White Sox shifted him to second base for his sophomore season and since 2010, he has hit an anemic .244/.306/.364 with an 81 wRC+ and 3.0 total fWAR. In 2013, he also missed time due to a broken bone in his wrist. His fielding is decent but nothing exceptional, and same goes for his baserunning. Beckham's not even useful as a platoon player since he's not especially good from either side of the plate and is in fact worse from what should be his stronger side. After the strong start to his career, he has hit .211/.290/.320 with a 66 wRC+ in 488 at bats against lefties, and .254/.312/.377 with an 85 wRC+ against righties.

Are those results from a bench player really worth dealing a guy who's proven to be a fine backup catcher? Cervelli's no All-Star, but in his career, he's hit .271/.343/.367 with a 93 wRC+ in 201 games, much better numbers than Beckham. That's not even taking into account his positive defensive reputation with a strong arm that pairs nicely with his pitch framing and blocking skills. Sure, there's the possibility that Murphy or (less likely) Romine could duplicate Cervelli's numbers while backing up McCann and Beckham would probably be a better backup than Eduardo Nunez.

However, it's highly debatable whether risking whether Cervelli's production for a player as flawed as Beckham is worth it or not, especially since it's possible that one of the other backup infielders in camp like Scott Sizemore or Dean Anna could play better than Beckham (and Nunez) anyway. There's no sense in throwing Cervelli away for a guy whose only redeeming quality is that he's better than Nunez because frankly, it's not difficult to find someone better than Nunez if that's what the Yankees want to do. As of now, the Yankees have one of the best backup catchers in the league. If they are seriously considering trading Cervelli away, they should wait for a better offer. It makes sense to deal while Cervelli's value is high, but doing so and taking a step down in bench quality with a player like Beckham is simply not worth it.

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