It was announced that John Ryan Murphy will be Brian McCann’s back-up at catcher for the 2015 season. The Yankees designated Austin Romine for assignment because he is out of options. Murphy was the favorite to be the back-up catcher coming into spring training and Romine didn’t do anything to prove that he deserved the position.
Neither player hit very well in spring training, but Murphy definitely had the edge as he had a .250 average and Romine’s average was .182. Last season, Murphy was chosen instead of Romine to be McCann’s back-up while Francisco Cervelli was injured and Murphy had a .284 average in 81 at-bats with one homer and nine RBIs. Romine is a very low .204 average in 167 at-bats.
Murphy caught 201 innings last season and had one error, a .994 fielding percentage and threw out 17 percent of potential base stealers. His caught stealing percentage is low, but his percentage from 2013 and in the minors indicates that it should improve. It makes sense that the Yankees kept Murphy because he is better offensively and is as good or better than Romine defensively.
Brian McCann will likely start about 120 games behind the plate this season, as he will have days off and be the DH during some games. It will be important for Murphy to hit for about a .270-.280 average, drive in runs when they are in scoring position with less than two outs, improve his caught stealing percentage and be reliable behind the plate.
(McCann played catcher in fewer games than normal last season (108 games) because he played in 16 games at first base because the Yankees didn’t have a back-up first baseman.)
With Murphy being named the back-up catcher, the Opening Day roster is finalized:
Catchers: Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy
First Base: Mark Teixeria and Garrett Jones
Second Base: Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius and Gregorio Petit
Third Base: Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Chris Young
Designated Hitter: Alex Rodriguez
Rotation: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nate Eovaldi and Adam Warren
Bullpen: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Chasen Shreve and Chris Martin