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Cashman says Yankees willing to stay in-house at catcher

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Believe him or don’t believe him, but Brian Cashman said this morning that the Yankees are willing to stick with their in-house, defense-first options at catcher.

“At the very least, that’s our fallback,” Cashman said. “But we are going to have to pursue a lot of areas on this club: The bench, right field, potentially catching, maybe not. It’s possible that our catchers are right here on this roster right now. That is very possible, and more likely than not, to be honest. But we’ll see. Patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait.”

Last night, Russell Martin agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates. Indications are that the Yankees are not particularly excited about the other top catchers on the free agent market, [3]and there’s no obvious trade target out there. Currently, the Yankees have backup catchers Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, prospect Austin Romine, and recently designated for assignment Eli Whiteside.

“We do have placeholders there,” Cashman said. “We have people that can handle and run the game. The offense is an area that, currently with what our roster provides, will be a downgrade from what we’re used to. But the most important aspect of those games is (defense).”

[4]A few other catching notes from Cashman…

The Yankees were not surprised by Martin’s signing
“This isn’t something that caught us off guard. It’s something we were very well aware of. The agent was very honest with us, as well as the player, Russell. The best shot we took at retaining him was in spring training and obviously it was more difficult and now he’s moving on.”

Cashman felt he could only put so much money toward the catching position
“I like Russell Martin. I’m a big Russell Martin fan. But ultimately we have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful how we spend our money. The market for Russell was aggressive, as it should have been, and our focus has been on our pitching and after that I have a lot of different holes to fill and we need to be careful how we allocate our remaining funds to make sure we can fill all the holes. I feel we were fortunate to have Russell Martin for the two years that we had him, and I’m sorry to see him go. I think the Pirates got a really good one. But at the same time, I think we’ll find ways to cushion the blow as we always try to do.”

Romine is currently expected to open in Triple-A, but that could change
“I think he’s on the outside looking in, but when you get this close to the big leagues, things can come quick. If you’ve got a lot of talent, things can come quick. That talent, it can close the gap very quickly. At this planning stage, the plan would be for him to be at Triple-A everyday and having a full year at Triple-A, but we’ll see.”

Right field is a higher offseason priority than catcher
“I would say so, yeah. … We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. We’ll engage the market – the trade and free agent market – but our big focus has been on our pitching, like we’ve been talking about.”

Associated Press photo