The Yankees have finally traded Francisco Cervelli and now the backup catching role is a wide open race between Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy. One argument exists that the Yankees see Murphy as the favorite to land the job and would let Romine, who is now out of options, go through waivers. I, unfortunately, have to disagree with that idea because I just don't see the Yankees letting that happen.
If Romine goes through waivers there's a good chance that he will be picked up by another team. Over the last few years we've seen that they are reluctant to let players go for nothing in return. They have taken inferior players over promising rookies just because of their contract; Cervelli over Murphy last year and Chris Stewart over Romine the year before that. I can't see them not taking advantage of this situation again.
If the Yankees choose Murphy over Romine then they probably lose Romine. If they go with Romine, Murphy can simply be sent down. Obviously, having five catchers on the 40-man roster is ridiculous, but over the last few seasons their depth behind the plate has been one of their strengths. By making Romine expendable they would go from four useable catchers to only two in one offseason, and with Gary Sanchez being the best catcher they have waiting in the wings, even if he gets the bump up to Scranton, they will be seriously lacking in major league-ready talent.
Going with Murphy could force them to sign a catcher to a minor league deal just to serve as legitimate depth in case of injury. This year's class of free agent catchers is impressive for what they need, but will any of them really be interested in an undefined role that may never materialize? By going with Romine they could bypass the issue of MLB depth altogether.
This is all not to say that I think Austin Romine is better than Murphy, or really any good at all, but it's just the move that makes the most sense for the roster. Maybe they do see Romine as completely expendable, but in that instance I'll be very surprised because history shows that the Yankees don't operate that way. They're cautious, likely too cautious, so don't be outraged when we find out in spring training that Romine is going North with the team.