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Yankees trade Francisco Cervelli: Good news for John Ryan Murphy & the 40-man roster

Cervelli was nice to have around, but someone had to go.

Rich Schultz

The Yankees traded backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. Cervelli was a nice backup option during his time with the Yankees, but freak injuries and a large number of concussions made him slightly less than reliable when it came to needing someone that could stay healthy. The return for that is a lefty that struggled in 2014 after a more solid season the year before, which sounds about right to me at first glance. Cervelli's endearing qualities will probably make this an unpopular move, but it was probably one that needed to be done.

With five catchers on the 40-man roster in 2014, the Yankees needed to shed some weight at the position to free up space. Austin Romine is virtually non-existent at this point and Gary Sanchez is going to need to get out of Double-A eventually. With Brian McCann serving as the team's starter, that leaves John Ryan Murphy as the backup if the team doesn't decide to try and get some value from another team out of him. There are worse things in life than having Romine be the backup catcher, but it would be hard to deny that Murphy is the better option. It's possible that his talents would be wasted by slumming it on the bench for the bulk of the season, but that's a worry for a different day. Someone had to go. Another catcher probably needs to go, and I doubt anyone would cry over the team parting ways with Romine. Maybe Murphy is traded this offseason for something useful, like a shortstop. There are just too many catchers. Cervelli had proven himself at the big league level and the Pirates wanted insurance in case Russell Martin departs in free agency.

Although the return of Justin Wilson isn't overly exciting, it's nice to see that (at least as of right now) Murphy will be given a shot as the regular backup in 2015. He certainly has more upside than Cervelli, and he doesn't come with all of the durability concerns. If McCann is forced to play first base for the often injured Mark Teixeira for any length of time, I'm pretty comfortable with Murphy getting starting reps behind the plate.

Four catchers is still a lot, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them further reduce that number before the team heads north out of spring training. It is bittersweet to see Cervelli go after it was so easy to fall in love with the way that he loved playing baseball. There is no doubt that we will miss him. Maybe Wilson ends up turning into another solid reliever in the bullpen, or maybe he doesn't, but trimming off the fat was a move that needed to be made. Hopefully Cervelli can make it as the Pirates starting catcher and remain healthy in a way he never seemed able to do with the Yankees. Those Pirates certainly like acquiring former Yankee catchers and then somehow making all of us frustrated at how not-terrible they end up being once they are gone. That's getting kind of annoying. Today is a pretty good day to be John Ryan Murphy, but it's also a pretty decent day to be Francisco Cervelli. It's a trade that I can't feel bad about, and I guess that's probably the best you can say for trading a backup catcher for a lefty reliever.