When camp opens on Friday, a new competition begins for the catching position. The Yankees already have their starting catcher in Brian McCann, but the Yankees need a back-up catcher in case an injury occur to Mark Teixeira (where you can easily slot McCann at first) or McCann himself. The original back-up catcher was slated to be Francisco Cervelli, but the Yankees traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the beginning of the offseason in exchange for Justin Wilson, who the Yankees envision as bullpen depth. The Yankees have two back-up catchers vying for the position: John Ryan Murphy (who saw a bulk of playing time with the Yankees last year) and Austin Romine (a player who’s bat hasn’t capitalized for the Yankees of yet). These two are to battle in Spring Training for a role. But who would be better qualified for the role?
John Ryan Murphy:
Murphy has been the favorite to win the back-up position, but the Yankees want Murphy to battle it out against Romine in order to secure his spot. While Murphy had so-so numbers with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (.246/.292/.397 with 6 HR’s and 28 RBI’s in 51 games), he did a decent job when the Yankees needed to replace Cervelli for a month due to injury (.284/.318/.370 with 1 HR and 9 RBI’s in 32 games). Murphy was reliable and knew how to call a decent game and if he makes the team, he could learn a thing or two on perfecting his craft from McCann.
Like Murphy, Romine has been a so-so hitter in the minor leagues (.242/.300/.365 with 6 HR and 33 RBI’s in 81 games) but what separates Romine and Murphy is their Major League experience. Murphy has proven when he gets on a roll, he’s capable of hitting Major League pitching. Romine had a significant chance in 2013, but didn’t hit for average or power (.207/.255/.296 with 1 HR and 10 RBI’s in 60 games). Romine then only played seven games with the Yankees in 2014 (.231/.231/.308 with 0 HR and 1 RBI) and was once again so-so. If Romine wants to win the back-up catching position, he has serious competition in Murphy, but will Romine succeed in getting the role?
Barring a blockbuster trade between now and the beginning of the regular season, I wouldn’t be surprised if John Ryan Murphy won the back-up role. He seems to have a slightly better bat than Romine and can call a decent game, but if he wants the job he’s going to have to prove it to the Yankees front office when he comes into camp on Friday.