NEW YORK -- Austin Romine still carries what the catcher has described as "a positive chip" on his shoulder from the spring of 2015, when the Yankees designated him for assignment, welcoming him back to the organization after every other team in the Majors passed on his services.The Yankees are
NEW YORK -- Austin Romine still carries what the catcher has described as "a positive chip" on his shoulder from the spring of 2015, when the Yankees designated him for assignment, welcoming him back to the organization after every other team in the Majors passed on his services.
The Yankees are facing another tough decision to make with Romine in advance of Friday's 8 p.m. ET deadline for clubs to tender a 2018 contract to players. Romine earned $805,000 in 2017 and has been mentioned as a possibility to be non-tendered, which would make the 29-year-old a free agent.
Romine batted .218 (50-for-229) with two homers and 21 RBIs in 80 games for the Yankees this past season, making 58 starts behind the plate and four at first base. The Yankees went 33-25 in his starts at catcher, and with former manager Joe Girardi prioritizing run prevention in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, Romine caught starter Sonny Gray in the Yanks' 6-4 win.
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The son of former big leaguer Kevin Romine and the brother of Tigers infielder Andrew Romine, Austin Romine filled in nicely when Gary Sanchez missed most of April with a right biceps strain, including a career-high five-RBI performance on April 29 at Baltimore.
"It means a lot to me, because I can show what I'm worth to the team and help the guys out when I can," Romine said then. "I'm just trying to fill in and do my job. Things are going well right now, but all you want to do as a backup player who gets thrust into that kind of position is do well for the team and show them you belong, and to be a part of this."
The Yankees could have interest in retaining Romine -- a second-round pick in the 2007 Draft -- even if he is non-tendered. They have three catchers on their 40-man roster, where Sanchez and Romine are joined by Kyle Higashioka.
The 27-year-old Higashioka went hitless in 18 big league at-bats this past season and was limited to just 21 Minor League games due to injury, but he batted .338 with nine homers in those contests.
In addition to Romine, Dellin Betances, Gray, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Kahnle, Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren are also eligible for arbitration. If any of those players were not tendered a contract, they would become free agents.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.