Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Long expected to be the favorite to serve as the team’s backup catcher behind Brian McCann, the New York Yankees have been receiving some interest from opposing teams in Francisco Cervelli. A deal doesn’t appear to be close but it appears as though one possibility that has emerged, at least according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, would be a deal which would send Cervelli to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for infielder Gordon Beckham.
"Scouts are definitely focusing on Yankees catchers. Francisco Cervelli is having a strong camp. His reputation already was for strong defense and he has three homers this spring. Catching is in short supply and he could start for some teams, including the White Sox. A deal built around Cervilli and Chicago’s Gordan Beckham is not impossible."
Cervelli would presumably step into the starting role for Chicago, as Sherman suggests. The team hoped that either Tyler Flowers or Josh Phegley would step up into the starting role last season after letting A.J. Pierzynski walk via free agency. Neither has done much in their careers to date. Flowers has, at least, had a decent spring (.273/.304/.455 in 23 PA). Once viewed as one of the top up-and-coming backstops in the game, he’s failed to live up to those lofty expectations and was nearly a non-tender candidate this offseason.
While Cervelli offers little more offensively, his defense is what makes him stand out as a better option than either Flowers or Phegley. Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto is still technically in the mix, but he’s struggled this spring (.091/.167/.091 in 12 PA) and has yet to play about High-A – leaving little doubt that he’ll be offered back to the Washington Nationals before much longer.
Beckham, meanwhile, has seemingly worn out his welcome in Chicago after a solid rookie season filled with tons of promise. He’s batted .249/.314/.380 over the past five seasons with the White Sox, with four times as many strikeouts than walks. A prominent shortstop in college, he’s spent most of his career in the Majors at second base with some additional time at third. His defensive versatility could ultimately be what makes him most valuable to the Yankees, given the team’s lack of proven depth across the infield. The former 1st Round pick (#8 overall) has two more years of team control left before he’ll reach free agency.