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Yankees Spring Training: Who should be the backup catcher?

Who among Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, and Gary Sanchez should be the Yankees' backup catcher?


Going into spring training, the Yankees have a total of five catchers on their 40-man roster with another three coming in as Non-Roster Invitees. Eight catchers is a lot of catchers, and only two can make the team. The first is obviously going to be Brian McCann, but the second, the backup catcher, could really end up being anyone. It will come down to the remaining four catchers on the 40 (sorry Peter O'Brien), so out of Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, and Gary Sanchez, one of these players will be coming with the team.

Francisco Cervelli

2013 (MLB): .269/.377/.500, 3 HR, 61 PA

Why He Will Get the Job: Honestly, Brian Cashman is probably going into spring training with the idea that Cervelli will be on the roster. He's officially out of options now, so if they want to send him to the minors they'll have to put him through waivers and will likely lose him. Just because of all that, I think it's safe to say that, barring a trade, Cervelli is the favorite here. They tendered him a contract for a reason.

Why He Won't Get the Job: While he might be the favorite, is he the safe bet? Two years ago he looked to have a job secured, but on the last day of camp Chris Stewart was brought in and Cervelli played the entire season in Triple-A. He's struggled with injury every year, most recently breaking his hand within the first three weeks of the 2013 season. While trying to rehab, he irritated an old injury in his elbow that essentially sidelined him for the rest of the year. Right after that, he was hit with a 50-game suspension because of his involvement in Biogenesis, so now his name, and likely his standing in the organization, is sullied and it's possible the Yankees could get rid of him.

J.R. Murphy

2013 (AA/AAA): .269/.347/.426, 12 HR, 468 PA
(MLB): .154/.185/.192, 27 PA

Why He Will Get the Job: Right now, Murphy is probably the best prospect that could make the team out of spring training. He essentially forced his way into the majors, jumping three levels and putting himself on the major league map. Many evaluators believe he can be a starter at some point, and though the Yankees have McCann and Sanchez, nothing is definite, so having him work under an All-Star can't be a bad idea.

Why He Won't Get the Job: He really came out of nowhere after several disappointing seasons, so there could be an argument to be made that the Yankees should sell high on Murphy and trade him before he goes back to his old offensive ways. Even if they keep him, the Yankees might prefer to let him go back to Triple-A and work on his game until they need to bring him up.

Austin Romine

2013 (MLB): .207/.255/.296, HR, 148 PA

Why He Will Get the Job: While his offense was pretty terrible for most of the season, Romine seemingly came to life in July and August when he hit .316/.394/.474 over that time. It's possible that he finally adapted to major league pitching and was figuring it out, but by that point Joe Girardi wouldn't budge from Chris Stewart. The Yankees could let him play in the majors and hopefully regain some of his value before they trade him at the deadline.

Why He Won't Get the Job: Well, this wouldn't be a true counterpoint if I didn't point out the fact that he was really bad for the entire first half of the season. His defense, which evaluators once lauded him over, was nothing special, and on top of all that he suffered a concussion that seriously limited his playing time at the end of the season. With no bat, underwhelming defense, and already exhibiting problems with concussions at 25, no one is going to want to trade for him. He will likely end up in Triple-A for most of the year.

Gary Sanchez

2013 (A+/AA): .253/.324/.412, 15 HR, 509 AB

Why He Will Get the Job: Gary Sanchez is their best prospect and is probably better than at least Romine and Cervelli right now. Skipping over Triple-A might be unorthodox for the Yankees, but it's not unheard of for top prospects. If they think his bat could help now, even in a reserve role, they should entertain the idea of letting him work out the kinks under the tutelage of Brian McCann, Joe Girardi, and Tony Pena.

Why He Won't Get the Job: Come on, it's the Yankees. There's no way they allow a 21-year-old catcher to make the team out of spring training, especially if there are other, older, viable options out there. But seriously folks, while Sanchez is good, he could probably use a little more time to work on his defense and adapt to the best minor league pitching. There's no reason to rush him, so unfortunately, Sanchez won't be given much of a chance.