5 Catchers the New York Yankees Should Pursue This Winter
The New York Yankees have plenty of holes to fill this offseason. Fortunately for them, they will have the money to do so.
One of the most glaring holes for the Yankees is their starting catcher position.
It's safe to say that the Yankees did not think the loss of Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates would be as significant as it ended up being.
Last season, the Yankees were near the bottom in all offensive statistics at the catcher position. They ranked 26th in MLB among catchers in batting with a .213 average. Yankees catchers' eight home runs and 43 runs batted in were the worst in the majors.
It's very possible that Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, who are both arbitration eligible in 2014, don't return to New York.
If the Yankees decide to not spend any money on the position, they could give the reins to Austin Romine, who started to hit better late in the season.
I don't believe Romine is the answer, however, and if the Yankees feel the same, they will have a few options to replace him, and some with longer options than others.
1. Brian McCann
I can't count on one hand the number of times I have written that the Yankees should go ahead and sign Brian McCann.
McCann is the top free agent catcher on the market and is a tremendous hitter. His lefty swing would fit perfectly in Yankee Stadium while his veteran leadership and playoff experience would match the team's needs.
Yes, there is risk that comes with McCann, as he has a poor history with injuries, but there isn't a free agent available who doesn't come with some risk.
The growing concern for me is that with so much interest in McCann from other teams, his price may become too high.
Jon Heyman, of CBS Sports, explains that at least five teams will give serious consideration into getting McCann, with as many as 10 teams in the mix.
A closer look at the list shows that all of the major players are big market teams with money to spend. His price may become too high in a bidding war, which means the Yankees must tread carefully.
2. A.J. Pierzynski
If the Yankees fail to sign Brian McCann. than the talent level of the remaining catchers available in free agency falls off a cliff.
In fact, there is only one other free-agent catcher I would even consider giving more than a year in a deal—A.J. Pierzynski, although I wouldn't go more than two years, if that.
I have always like Pierzynski and felt he is underrated. I enjoy his edgy attitude behind the plate and feel like that would be a nice change of pace for the Yankees clubhouse.
He will be 37 at the start of next season, but has strung together a nice run of solid years behind the plate. Pierzynksi has hit over .270 in each of the last six seasons with more than 15 homers in each of the past two seasons.
He can be penciled in for at least 130 games a season and is as reliable as it gets for the position.
Pierzynski won't blow you away behind the plate, but he will do enough and win a team games, making him worth the investment.
3. Carlos Ruiz
From here on out, I wouldn't offer any of the remaining catchers anything more than a one-year deal.
That could make it difficult to sign them, but that is all they are worth.
Carlos Ruiz would be an interesting signing for the Yankees, as he was involved in trade rumors last season with the Yankees.
He will be 35 at the start of the 2014 season and coming off a year in which he was suspended 25 games after testing positive for an amphetamine.
However, Ruiz is also a season removed from being an NL All-Star, when he batted .325 with 16 home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012.
If the Yanks can get Ruiz at a bargain price and he can put up numbers even close to that, he would be a fantastic steal this offseason.
4. John Buck
With John Buck, the Yankees would be looking to undo the loss of Russell Martin because the two are very similar players.
Buck does not provide much in regards to batting average, but he is capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark.
Because of that alone, Buck is instantly better than the catchers the Yanks had this season. Not only did they provide no consistent hitting, but they also had a significant shortage in power.
Buck would be nothing more than a filler in hopes that Yankees' top prospect Gary Sanchez starts to really develop in time to make the roster a season from now.
The Yanks could enjoy Buck's hot streaks and hope that his cold streaks aren't too long.
5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Jarrod Saltalamacchia comes in fifth here because I would only want the Yanks to sign him for one season, but I believe 28-year-old will get a multi-year deal elsewhere.
To me, the former first-round pick is a younger version of what John Buck can provide. Salty can hit a bunch of home runs, but will not provide much for batting average.
I'm not buying his .273 average from this season. Prior to 2013, Salty hadn't hit over .235 since 2008.
Along with his low batting average he also strikes out a ton, having fanned 139 times each of the last two seasons in only 121 games played.
If the Yankees can get Salty on a cheap one-year deal, I would be OK with it. Truthfully, however, I'd almost rather see the Yanks give Austin Romine a chance to prove his worth at this point.