Over the offseason, the Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates, who appear to have an interesting fascination with acquiring former Yankee catchers. That brought the number of catchers on the 40-man roster down to four: Brian McCann, Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy, and Gary Sanchez. Since Sanchez has never played at a level higher than Double-A, the backup role will come down to either Romine or Murphy. Who deserves that job and what will happen to Romine if he isn't named backup catcher?
In a recent interview, Romine stated that he not only wants to be the backup catcher, but he wants to show the Yankees that he wants it. In an effort to do that, Romine arrived to spring training early, and spent the offseason working hard to lose 15 pounds while concentrating on improving his lower body. That's all well and good, but it just doesn't really feel like there's much of a competition between him and Murphy. At his best, Romine has been mediocre when given the chance to play with the team. In 2013 he spent his longest stretch in the majors, and only hit .207/.255/.296 in 148 plate appearances. Over three different seasons, he's hit .204/.247/.281 with the Yankees. It's also been a few years since he had a great season in the minors. In Triple-A last year he hit .242/.300/.365 with six home runs in 81 games. Although Murphy also had a very similar line of .246/.292/.370 with six home runs in 51 games.
Despite their similar performances in Scranton last year, the Yankees have shown that they prefer Murphy over Romine. When Cervelli pulled his hamstring at the beginning of the season, the Yankees decided to call up Murphy who went on to hit .284/.318/.370 in 85 plate appearances. Murphy was sent back down when Cervelli finally returned from the disabled list, but when the roster expanded in September, Murphy got the nod again. It wasn't until Cervelli started to suffer from migraines that the Yankees called up Romine to be the third catcher.
Unfortunately for Romine, he is all out of minor-league options, which explains his drive to go all-out in an effort to make the team during spring training. If he doesn't make the team, he would be placed on the waiver wire. It's possible that he could clear waivers, but if he doesn't then the Yankees would be faced with a new predicament. Assuming that Murphy is the backup catcher and Romine is gone, who would be the backup if Murphy or McCann get injured? The only other catcher on the roster is Sanchez, who has yet to play a game in Triple-A. It would be nice to have Romine available in Scranton just in case. If the Yankees are worried that they could lose Romine, then they could give him the backup job and send Murphy to Triple-A, since he has an option left. At this point, though, it seems like it's Murphy's job to lose.
Do you think Romine has any chance at all to be named the backup catcher? Would the Yankees be okay with putting him on the waiver wire?