Monday, February 10, 2014

When the offseason began, we pretty much figured that one of the most interesting position battles in spring training would be the one for the role of starting catcher. But to the surprise of many, the Yankees signed Brian McCann, pretty much locking up that job for the next few years.

It'll still be the same players that we're watching this spring, but they'll be competing for a different role -- the backup catcher job.

The Yankees will have eight catchers coming to camp this year: McCann, Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Peter O'Brien, Jose Gil, and Francisco Arcia.

McCann will be the starter, obviously, and it'll almost certainly be down to Cervelli, Romine, and even Murphy to win the job. It can be debated whether the Yankees could carry more than two catchers on the roster, but with the numbers of outfielders and infielders they'll have, two catchers sounds very likely.

Heading into the spring, I'm going to give Cervelli a slight edge over Romine to win the job. I've always favored Cervelli as a catcher. As much as I was hoping the Yankees would re-sign Russell Martin last winter, it was nice to see Cervelli get the chance to start when the season began.

Even though Cervelli has never been much of an offensive catcher, he has always played well behind the plate, and shows a certain kind of passion and excitement that I like to see in ball players.

Romine gives good defense, too, but has almost nothing to offer at the plate. Last season was his first full year with the Yankees, and his .209 batting average in 60 games is something that can only improve, though. The only way that he is going to win the job is if Cervelli gets hurt, or Romine hits really well, better than Cervelli.

But we still can't forget about Murphy. The Yankees like this kid a lot. He really impressed them in his short September call-up last season. The liked the way he was able to prepare for games, and handle the pitching staff. A good spring with the bat and behind the plate could also win him the job, putting him on the Opening Day roster over the two more experience catchers that he's going up against.

Keep in mind, we could also see a situation where only Cervelli and Romine are going after the backup role. There is always a possibility that the Yankees could deal Romine for a reliever, maybe, or even a starting pitcher, as some in the industry have suggested.

I'm not saying that it's bound the happen at some point, it if we see a situation where the Yankee could be looking to make a move in an attempt to fill hole at another position, Romine, or even Murphy, could be on the move.

This competition is just one of the five that we'll be previewing this week, and will also be updating you guys on how things stand between the three candidates as the spring goes on.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).


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