The Pirates released Francisco Cervelli on Thursday and since then, the speculation has been that he is going to sign with the Braves. If he does, Cervelli will join a remarkable number of former Yankees that have gone on to play in Atlanta’s organization over the last few years. At least nine players with experience in the Yankees’ system have played in either the majors, Triple-A, or Double-A for the Braves in 2019 alone.
In fact, you can make an entire lineup just out for former Yankee pitchers and catchers.
Catcher: Chris Stewart
He is now retired and spent the time he did play in 2019 with the Padres, but most of Stewart’s 2018 playing time came with the Gwinnett Stripers, Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate. He hit .219/.299/.277 there, which is almost identical to his line as a member of the 2013 Yankees. Of all the catchers to choose from, he gets the nod at that position because he would just look too awkward anywhere else.
First Base: Brian McCann
Yes, this is one is cheating a bit since he was a Brave before he was a Yankee, but McCann is back in Atlanta now. He’s on the IL currently, but otherwise having a seemingly normal late stage McCann season: a bit below average hitting but with solid defense. He only has over 100 career innings at first base, so he gets the nod there.
Second Base: Francisco Cervelli
The soon to be newest member of the Yankees-to-Braves pipeline has three career major league innings at second base. They were all in emergency situations where a team ran out of bench players, but he’s the best option on a team literally full of pitchers and catchers.
Shortstop: Shane Greene
After a couple not great seasons post-trade, Greene has carved out a career for himself as a good reliever over the past couple years. At least, he was. A trade deadline move to Atlanta has not worked out so far. In 10 games with his new team, Greene currently has a 7.56 ERA and is allowing 16.2 hits per nine. He is shortstop in honor of the player the Yankees got back from him: Didi Gregorius.
Third Base: John Ryan Murphy
Here is a list of Murphy’s major league seasons by OPS+ since leaving the Yankees: 12, 5, 61 and 68. He is the Braves’ organization, which is his third team since he was swapped for Aaron Hicks. Murphy played some third base early in the minors, so he can go there. The .591 OPS in Triple-A might not play great, however.
Outfield: Chris Martin
Martin’s major league career was seemingly over after his stint in New York in 2015. It took him three years to make it back, and then this year, he was another reliever acquired mid-season by Atlanta. Like Greene, it’s not going great so far.
Outfield: Anthony Swarzak
Since leaving the Yankees, Swarzak has become a pretty solid reliever, despite how he looked in pinstripes. That is, except for one season. In 2017, he had a ERA+ of 187, and this year is at 131. In 2018, it was 62. Who did he play for in 2018? The Mets, obviously.
Outfield: Mark Melancon
It’s been a long time since he was a Yankee, but Melancon did come through New York’s system. He’s far more identifiable with other teams, but he does count on this list. As for his performance with the Braves since a mid-season trade? Just copy and past the stuff about Greene and Martin.
Pitcher: Manny Banuelos
Oh what could have been for ManBan. After never quite making it up to the majors with the Yankees, he was traded to Atlanta in January 2015. The trade didn’t work for either team except for one part: the Yankees got back Chasen Shreve, who they then used to get Luke Voit.
Banuelos made his major league debut in 2015, but he wasn’t particularly great. He then dipped out of the majors for a couple years and only just resurfaced this year with the White Sox. He had been gone so long after so short a career that he came into 2019 still eligible for Rookie of the Year. He has a 6.90 ERA and is walking nearly six batters per nine, so I don’t think he’s going to get any votes.