Last year we had catching issues, there’s no which way around it. After the Yankees were unable to resign Russell Martin after the 2012 season, there was a void to be filled that Yankee fans were not used to seeing. Fast forward to 2014. With Brian McCann as our new everyday catcher, the only thing left for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi to do is name a backup, right?
Some Yankee insiders, including myself, think Francisco Cervelli and the log jam of Yankee catchers could be valuable trade chips if something were to arise. Brian Roberts‘ well documented health issues, make second base a particular concern. We also can’t forget about Scott Sizemore, who also has had injury issues over the last few seasons, is vying for a spot on the team. But with only one more roster spot open presumably for a backup infielder, trading a catcher for an established backup infielder or second baseman makes some sense if all else fails.
Most people think that the Yankees will name Cervelli as the backup, but there really is a three-way dance for that ever crucial backup job. Cervelli avoided arbitration and signed a one-year deal this offseason, seemingly making him the odds-on choice for the job. The team also has Austin Romine, who filled in nicely and finished strong last season. Then there is touted prospect Gary Sanchez, and the young J.R. Murphy as the other catchers in camp. Sanchez will probably start the year in Double-A Trenton, leaving Romine and Murphy along with Cervelli, as the top competitors for the backup job.
But during Tuesday’s exhibition game against Florida State multiple scouts were in attendance. Teams that sent scouts included the White Sox, Giants, Astros, Tigers and Twins. It’s rumored that the White Sox might be interested in dealing second baseman Gordon Beckham, but the price for Beckham might not be a logical straight up trade. Beckham 27, was a first round pick in 2008 and has experience at third base. He isn’t a great hitter, but brings a little speed to a lineup. GM Brian Cashman quickly shot down any rumors saying there has been no direct dialogue between the two teams regarding any potential trade. On the other hand, Cashman was quoted regarding the infield situation, “If we need to do improvements, it’s got to be cheap. We’ve spent our money.” But Beckham might be a player on the Yankees radar.
Another developing situation for Cashman and everyone to keep an eye on is the Arizona Diamondbacks overflow of infielders. According to reports, the D-Backs are possibly looking to add another catcher. It’s plausible that they could look to trade Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington or Nick Ahmed. Arizona’s GM Kevin Towers is said to be looking for either a minor league pitcher or a catcher. Yankees could fit as the perfect trade partner if they feel inclined.
Yankee scouts will also be keeping tabs on Milwaukee Brewers‘ second baseman Rickie Weeks. Weeks is battling for his job in Milwaukee with Scooter Gennett. If he becomes available, the Yankees could make a run at him, but Weeks has a hefty contract attached to him. He’s due $11 million this season and has an option for 2015 worth $11.5 million. He’s 28 and coming off a pretty bad 2013 season.
It’s still early on in spring training and whatever happens with the Yankees surplus of catching and the potential question mark at second base is still up in the air. My personal feeling is that the Yankees will go into the season with Brian Roberts at second and the catching situation will sort itself out. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if anything happened the way this offseason has been so far.