(Courtesy of Kim Klement/US Today Sports)
The hottest catcher name on the trade market streets might be Francisco Cervelli right now, but the better Yankee trade piece at the position might actually be John Ryan (formerly J.R.) Murphy. The 22-year-old right-handed hitting and throwing catcher rocketed up the radar with a strong 2013 season that saw him contribute at 3 levels, and with fellow MiLers Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez needing playing time, he could be the perfect prospect candidate on which to sell high.
With his breakout 2013 season in Double and Triple-A, Murphy significantly raised his Major League projection to a league average and possibly better catcher. He's shown the ability to hit for average, power, and to get on base, and his solid all-around defensive game is built on the strength of his ability to understand and work with his pitching staff. Still, he's a very unknown commodity at the Major League level based on only 27 late-2013 PA and the truth is that he probably needs another repeat performance or improvement upon his 2013 output in Triple-A to solidify this new higher ceiling.
So what could Murphy fetch in return? A high-level prospect of similar situation and equal value would be good, and one AB4AR reader has been banging the Chris Owings drum loudly in recent weeks. Owings, also 22, is in a battle for the starting shortstop spot in Arizona and his Major League ceiling is questionable thanks to lack of patience at the plate. The D'backs are in the market for more catching help and have been one of the team reportedly scouting the Yankee catchers this spring. It would be a rare top prospect-for-top prospect deal that makes sense for both sides. If it's not for something like that, then it's probably best for the Yanks to hold onto Murphy for now.