It’s settled. Barring a last-minute addition, the Yankees will enter the season with a catching tandem of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.
That became the reality this afternoon after prospect catcher Austin Romine was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre among a series of roster cuts. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said back in January that he expected Romine to begin the season in the minors, so the move doesn’t come as a big surprise.
Romine, 24, went 2-for-8 with three RBI and a run scored in six Grapefruit League games. Sending him down is the right move for his development, as he was limited to just 31 games last season due to a back injury and has only appeared in 26 games above Double-A (including five with the Yankees in 2011), but there figures to be plenty of clamoring for his callup if he gets off to a hot start and Cervelli and Stewart are as underwhelming offensively as most expect.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.