Russell Martin will have a new backup this season, as the Yankees acquired journeyman catcher Chris Stewart from the Giants in exchange for minor-league right-hander George Kontos and optioned Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A.
Cervelli has been in the majors since 2009, backing up Jorge Posada and then Martin while hitting .272 with a .338 on-base percentage and .354 slugging percentage in 181 games. He’s also thrown out 27 percent of steal attempts.
Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger described Cervelli as “red-eyed and stunned” when told of his demotion, and rightfully so because he’s an above average backup catcher and beyond worthy of a big-league roster spot.
I’m not sure the same can be said about Stewart, who’s hit just .200 with a .563 OPS in 93 games as a major leaguer and .259 with a .695 OPS in 421 games at Triple-A. In other words, Cervelli has hit as well in the majors as Stewart has at Triple-A, but the key difference here is that Cervelli had a minor-league option remaining and thus the Yankees can keep him in the organization while adding some catching depth.
On Friday, it was reported that free agent Hanley Ramirez was under federal and state investigation, though no one knew for what, exactly. Michele McPhee of ABC News said, “Obviously I know absolutely nothing about sports or Hanley Ramirez’s stats, but what I do know is crime. And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man during a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.”
The suspect was reportedly transporting 435 grams of fentanyl and a “large amount” of crack cocaine. But it turns out that Ramirez’s name only got mentioned because the suspect was hoping to avoid arrest. Ramirez is not actually under investigation, Shelley Murphy and Evan Allen of the Boston Globe report.
The attorney of the suspect said that his client grew up in the Dominican Republic with Ramirez and used the former Red Sox DH’s name “to get the cops off his back, which didn’t work.” During the traffic stop, a trooper asked permission to open a brown cardboard box found in the rear cargo area of the suspect’s jeep. The suspect said the box contained books, shipped to him by Ramirez’s mother to deliver to Ramirez in Boston. The suspect FaceTimed Ramirez to back up his story, but Ramirez said he wasn’t aware that the suspect was on his way to visit. Ramirez gave permission to the trooper to open the box. He did, and found a gift bag with two kilograms of fentanyl. The suspect was arrested on drug trafficking charges.
Ramirez, 34, hit a disappointing .254/.313/.395 with six home runs and 29 RBI in 195 plate appearances for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment on May 25 and released on June 1. The Red Sox maintain that Ramirez’s release had nothing to do with anything off-the-field.