Just a few days after rumors were flying around that New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi would stick with three catchers upon Francisco Cervelli’s return, the story has taken a different twist. George A. King III of the New York Post is reporting that back up catcher John Ryan Murphy will be heading back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as soon as Cervelli is done with his rehab stint. The move could come as soon as Sunday.
I understand the philosophy behind the move. Cervelli, now at 28-years-old and having a roller coaster ride of a career between the majors and minors, is out of options. Should the Yankees activate him and send him down to the farm, Cervelli could become a free agent and the Yankees would surely lose him. Optioning Murphy will get immediate everyday playing time, and he will only get better for his future spot with the boys in the Bronx. Cashman wants Murphy to get the most work he can to improve, and perhaps one day become a fixture behind the plate in the Bronx. That will only happen at Triple A.
On the other hand, hasn’t Cervelli had his chances? He has been injury-prone, has been suspended for PEDs, and his defense has been questioned at times. He brings little to the plate offensively, however, he has been playing first base in his rehab and Girardi sees this as an advantage. Murphy began the season behind Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine on the Yankees’ catcher’s list and since he has gotten to the big leagues, all he has done is proven he belongs. The 23-year-old former second round pick is currently batting .296 with a home run and eight RBI. Murphy has played some pretty solid defense in his adjustment to the bigs, and has thrown out twenty percent of attempted base stealers. Cervelli has thrown out 21 percent over his seven years up and down with the Yankees.
Cervelli is a very serviceable back up, and the truth is John Ryan Murphy does have some tweaking to do with his game. I don’t think the Yankees can do wrong with either behind the plate, but perhaps now is the time to give Murphy his chance. Designating Cervelli puts the Yankees at risk for losing their back-up catcher, but it may be a gamble worth taking.