Yesterday, right after their game against the Mets, the Yankees traded minor league reliever George Kontos to the Giants for backup catcher Chris Stewart. Upon doing this, the Yankees demoted their ebullient backup backstop Francisco Cervelli to AAA to start the year. While this is certainly a disappointment for Frankie Blue Eyes, he’ll get a chance to play every day for Empire State, as Austin Romine will start the year on the DL.
Stewart is a zero with the bat, essentially, though his career walk rate (a meager 237 PA) is 8.0, so he’ll at least make a pitcher work every so often. As Mike alluded to last night, he ranked 15th out of 114 catchers in terms of defensive production last year, which will be a welcomed change from Cervelli’s propensity for inaccurate throws on steals and ill-advised snap throws. They’ll lose a bit on offense when Russell Martin gets the day off, but it seems like they’re willing to make that trade, considering Stewart’s defense. I’m just hoping we don’t get much of that “personal catcher” business that manager Joe Girardi tends to go for.
As for the trade itself, it does seem a bit odd and that was my first reaction to it. While Kontos is certainly not the next coming of Mariano Rivera and likely wasn’t part of the Yankees’ long term plans, he seemed poised to break onto the big league team at some point and provide some value. This seems like an overpay considering Stewart’s past performance (or lack thereof). When looking at that, it’s a marvel the Yankees had to give up anything but cash or a player-to-be-named later. Good luck to Kontos in the Bay, though, and good luck to Stewart as the back up. This trade isn’t necessarily all that great, but it’s not indefensible or anything. Can we please just start the damn season already?