With Russell Martin on his way to Bradenton instead of Tampa this February and no major league reinforcements on the way, Austin Romine has emerged as both the catcher of the future and the designated object of hope for fans desperate for an alternative to Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Unfortunately for those people, Romine has lost a lot of development time to injury in the past year, and as such it appears as though he may be ticketed for Triple-A, at least to begin the year. Anthony McCarron reports that general manager Brian Cashman “believes” that’s exactly what will happen in April. “I expect Romine to go to Triple-A,” Cashman said. “I don’t expect him to be our everyday catcher out of the gate. He always has the possibility of taking it, but realistically, if I were in prediction mode, I’d say Triple-A. But he has a chance to alter that.”
If performance is the key issue, it shouldn’t take much for Romine to earn himself a shot with the big league team. Given that neither of the alternatives is a legitimate starter, the bar is already set pretty low, and Romine is the only one of the Yankees’ three catchers with the potential for any real upside right now. On the other hand, his offensive abilities don’t grade out very well, and he got very little playing time outside of the low minors last season, and underwhelmed in the Arizona Fall League as well.
McCarron does report that “going internal” was the Yankees “first choice” to replace Martin, according to Cashman, which would explain the team’s total lack of interest in A.J. Pierzynski, even as he signed a one year contract with Texas, and that the Yankees are prioritizing defense over offense in their catchers. But considering that Cervelli is an absolutely atrocious defender and Stewart is the picture of Nichols’ Law, that sounds a lot like a general manager trying to put a positive spin on his owner not giving him enough money to sign a real starting catcher this winter.