In the final day of spring training the New York Yankees decided to make a trade and the end result is Francisco Cervelli has lost his job as the backup catcher.
The Yankees on Wednesday traded right-handed pitcher George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants for backup catcher Chris Stewart. Because Stewart is out of options, Stewart would have to clear waivers before he could be sent to the minors.
So the Yankees have decided to keep Stewart on the 25-man roster to back up starting catcher Russell Martin and Cervelli was optioned to Tripe-A Empire State.
Kontos, 26, compiled in a 2.62 ERA and struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. He had a 2.81 ERA in 8 1/3 innings of work this spring after missing four weeks with an oblique injury.
Stewart, 30, played in 67 games last season for the Giants and hit .204 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He threw out 39% of base-runners who attempted to steal last season.
Cervelli, 26, hit .286 with four home runs and 22 RBIs last season.. He nabbed 14% of base-runners last season.
Manager Joe Girardi said on WFAN that the Yankees needed depth at the catching position because 23-year-old Austin Romine suffered a setback in his recovery from a strained lower back and he could be sidelined for up to two months. Romine suffered a similar back injury when he was playing for Double-A Trenton in 2011.
Cervelli, however, was miffed when he was given the news by the Yankees.
“I am disappointed. It was the last day and I was ready to go. They explained the reason but I do not understand it.” Cervelli said.
Girardi said that Stewart had to be kept at the major-league level because of the lack of options and he said that Cervelli would be back in the major leagues at some point.
Girardi also announced the other roster moves the Yankees made to round out their 25-man roster.
Left-hander Clay Rapada, 30, was placed on the roster as the team’s second lefty reliever, joining Boone Logan. Rapada was 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 10 innings this spring covering 12 appearances.
The move was no surprise because Rule 5 draft pick Cesar Cabral, 23, suffered a stress fracture of his left elbow in a game against the Phillies on March 30. The Yankees will be able to keep Cabral on the disabled list while he recovers from the injury.
The other spot in the bullpen will go to 25-year-old right-hander David Phelps, who will replace Michael Pineda. Pineda is suffering from tendinitis in right shoulder and he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Phelps will be utilized as a long reliever in the bullpen. Phelps, the winner of the 2012 James P. Dawson Award as the Yankees top rookie in camp, was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA this spring. Phelps struck out 14 batters in 17 1/3 innings.