With Francisco Cervelli being named the Yankees’ backup catcher, John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine have been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Murphy was sent down Tuesday afternoon and Romine was told he would not be Brian McCann‘s backup Wednesday morning.
As it stands right now, Murphy and Romine will split time at catcher for the Yankees’ highest Minor League club. A lot could change however. Despite being named the big-league backup, Cervelli remains a player that could be dealt to improve depth at other positions. He has enjoyed a great spring training, and the thought is to trade him while his value is high. A lack of playing time or a slow start will undoubtedly cripple his trade value.
If Cervelli is not dealt, another option is to trade Romine and let Murphy play every day in Scranton. The return for Romine will most likely be less than that of Cervelli, but the Yankees’ depth at catcher makes one of them expendable. Despite having the most value of the three, Murphy seems like the least likely to be traded, as the Yankees view him as close to Major League ready as well as having a higher ceiling than Cervelli or Romine. With that being said, if Cervelli is dealt, look for Romine to be called up as the backup for the Bombers. This will allow Murphy to continue to play everyday and improve at Triple-A, which seems like it has been the plan all along. Murphy is sound defensively, but the Yankees would like to see him improve on his offensive numbers from last year. He hit .269 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI. His 47/73 walk-strikeout ratio shows his plate discipline could improve as well.
Whether or not the Yankees will move one of their catchers in the coming weeks is anyone’s guess, but it is worth monitoring how Murphy and Romine are used at Triple-A early in the season.