In the days after the Yankees season ended, general manager Brian Cashman made it clear that top prospect Jesus Montero would get a look in spring training.
“I do have people who believe he’s Major League-ready at the catcher position with a tremendous offensive bat,” Cashman said. “But nothing gets handed to somebody. You take it and earn it. He’ll have a chance to come to Spring Training and fight for something and show that he’s ready for something more at a higher level or not.”
Today, The Daily News took that notion a step further, citing a Yankees source who says Montero is the early favorite to get the bulk of the starts at catcher next season. The “consensus among the Yankees’ high command” is that Montero’s ready.
The plan would be for Montero to catch roughly 100 games, said a source, with Posada and Francisco Cervelli sharing the rest of the duties. Austin Romine, the Yank’s other blue-chip catching prospect, would start at Triple-A, potentially taking over Cervelli’s spot by midseason if he shows he is ready.
Concerns about Montero’s defense might be a non-issue because the player he would be replacing has defensive difficulties of his own. In a partial season behind the plate, Posada finished second in the American League with eight passed balls. He caught 83 games and allowed 72 stolen bases, with a caught stealing percentage of just 15.3. Cervelli actually had a worse percentage.
In 105 games behind the plate in Triple-A, Montero was charged with 15 passed balls and threw out 23.3 percent of base stealers.
Given the upside of Montero’s bat, the concerns about Posada’s durability and defense, and the looming hole at designated hitter, it might be time to make the move and bring The Kid to the big leagues.