Today on Fangraphs, David Laurila posted an interview with Yankees’ catching prospect J.R. Murphy. There’s plenty of insight into the up and coming catcher’s career, but one particular quote illustrates how the organization values Murphy’s position:
“Catching is as much mental as it is physical, and I’ve made great strides in that area. It goes back to all the catching knowledge we have in this organization. Don Wakamatsu is here. Julio [Mosquera] our minor league catching guy. Joe [Girardi] and Tony [Pena]. I’ve also talked to the other catchers in the organization.”
It’s evident that the Yankees emphasize the defensive and strategic aspects of the position, especially since Jorge Posada‘s tenure came to an end. Chris actually wrote about this mindset in November, and Murphy’s quote further backs the philosophy. It supports why the Yankees last two free agent signings at the position, Russell Martin and Brian McCann, are well regarded behind the dish. Obviously, McCann’s bat is also a calling card, but his leadership, defense, and framing skills are big pluses. This organizational preference also explains why the Yankees were willing to run out Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart last season, although it didn’t work out the way the club hoped. Furthermore, it backs up the team trading Jesus Montero. Could this mean Gary Sanchez is next?
Back to Murphy: there’s a lot to like about the things he says in the article. Unfortunately, with McCann a Yankee for the next five seasons, Murphy may never be anything more than a backup in pinstripes. However, the good news is that he has boosted is stock over the past season or two, with the general consensus that he could be a slightly above average regular at the position. That doesn’t sound sexy, but that’s pretty valuable for a catcher and makes him a good trade chip. Maybe he could help fill a need via trade, but he certainly would be useful as depth.