- Last Updated: 1:36 AM, December 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:36 AM, December 1, 2012
A day after Russell Martin bolted the Yankees for Pittsburgh, general manager Brian Cashman didn’t sound as if he were ready to look very far to replace him.
“It’s possible our catchers are on our roster right now,” Cashman said. “That is very well possible and more likely than not, but we’ll see.”
Because those catchers are Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Eli Whiteside, there likely will be a significant dropoff at the position.
Cashman once hinted that Bubba Crosby could be the starting center fielder, only to replace him with Johnny Damon. So the Yankees could change course and pursue a free- agent catcher such as A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli, but ownership seems increasingly serious about getting payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014, so Cashman could be more willing to follow through this time around.
“I’m a big Russell Martin fan, but ultimately we have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful with how we spend our money,” Cashman said. “I’m sorry to see him go.”
The Yankees discussed a three-year extension worth about $20 million during spring training, but Martin was not interested and is now set to make $16.5 million over two years with the Pirates.
“This isn’t something that caught us off guard,” said Cashman, who was in Stamford, Conn., yesterday, preparing for tomorrow’s annual rappelling stunt down the side of the Landmark Building. “The best shot we took at retaining him was in spring training, and then after that, it became more difficult.”
Stewart, Cervelli and Whiteside never have proven to be more than offensively-challenged backups. Romine missed much of last season at Triple-A because of back problems. Cashman said he was impressed by Romine during the fall league and the 24-year-old is healthy.
The general manager also conceded finding a right fielder was a higher priority than a catcher, because the Yankees don’t have any other options on their current roster.
Cashman will have work to do at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., starting Monday, but he didn’t buy into the notion it is shaping up to be a rough offseason.
“I think we’re having a successful early campaign,” Cashman said of re- signing of Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, in particular. “We’ve been able to acquire [or] retain high caliber, high-end starting pitching on one-year deals. I’m not sure anyone is doing better right now.”
* Cashman said Derek Jeter remains on track to be ready for Opening Day.
“The one thing you don’t have to worry about is Derek Jeter,” Cashman said after seeing The Post’s back page Friday featuring the shortstop in Florida, where he is recovering from a broken left ankle. “I can’t tell you if he’s heavy, but even if he was, I’m not worried in that capacity in any way.”
Jeter underwent surgery in October after suffering the injury in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers, and Cashman’s main concern is that the 38-year-old doesn’t try to do too much.
“He had a checkup a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina and everything is going really well,” he said.
As for the photo, Cashman had no information that Jeter gained weight, before joking, “It was probably a wrinkle in the shirt.”
* The Yankees claimed right-hander Jim Miller off waivers from Oakland. The 30-year-old was 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA last year. They also signed Jayson Nix to a major league deal, avoiding arbitration, and then designated him and righty Mickey Storey for assignment.Follow @NYPostsports