"As Manager Joe Girardi discussed [Jesus Montero’s] future on Wednesday, he offered indications that Montero will be Russell Martin’s backup. Girardi wants to study Montero’s catching abilities across full Spring Training games to see if Montero maintains defensive consistency, but he sounded enthused, not reluctant, about having Montero in the big leagues."
Curry has been around as a beat reporter forever; covering the Yankees for the New York Times for years, so he has as good an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes as anyone.
If he’s reporting that the Yankees are leaning toward Montero as the backup, there is a good chance that they are.
Francisco Cervelli would be the biggest reason that they wouldn’t take Montero to the Bronx with them. Cervelli has problems defensively, and he has almost no power, but he does have experience and knows the pitching staff well.
He also hits well enough for a backup catcher and, by most accounts, worked very hard with Robinson Cano during the offseason to get into great shape for the season.
It’s hard to see him being demoted to the minors at this point—or just being cut loose—but he wouldn’t exactly fetch a lot in a trade.
Realistically, it seems like Cervelli could get the job while the Yankees wait to find an appropriate trade partner, so they can get the most value out of him they can. He’s a young catcher who can handle the bat a bit; eventually, the Yankees would be able to find a trade scenario where he'd be a valuable piece for another team, it just might take a while.
The other big thing holding Montero back is his development.
At this point, it seems like he needs to play every day, but it looks like the Yankees aren’t so worried about this. His bat is ready for the majors right now, so that isn’t a problem. The worry would be about his defense; to really improve he would have to play every day.
Girardi believes that he can find Montero enough work that this wouldn’t be a problem. Even as the backup, he would be catching at least twice a week. The other days he could do drills with ex-catchers Tony Pena and Girardi himself.
Working with two catchers of that caliber could be as good as playing every day in the minors. Plus, slowly working his way into the lineup may help his bat out in the long run.
What do you think about Montero breaking camp with the Yankees? Is it best for the team? Or would it be better for him to get more seasoning in the minor leagues? What about Cervelli?