NEW YORK --- It looks like Jorge Posada could be the New York Yankees' regular designated hitter next season, becoming the team's first star veteran player to find out he is changing his role due to advanced age and decreasing skills.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman informed Posada of his intention to give top prospect Jesus Montero a shot to win the starting catching job, a baseball official with knowledge of the conversation told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday.
The New York Post first reported the discussion and Posada's wife, Laura, confirmed the talk on her Facebook account.
Posada, 39, also underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Wednesday, the team announced. The procedure, by Dr. Lee Kaplan in Miami, was the same one performed on CC Sabathia last week.
The New York Times had first reported the surgery, also reporting that during an examination Monday, Posada was told by Cashman that he should be prepared to DH a lot.
Posada batted only .248 last season with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs in 120 games. The switch hitter has been limited by injuries since his last All-Star season, 2007, when he hit a career high .338 with 20 home runs and 90 RBIs. Posada caught 83 games last season, was DH 28 games and played first base once.
He spent 15 days on the disabled list with a fractured foot in mid-May and missed scattered games throughout the season with what was termed a Baker Cyst behind his left knee which made crouching behind the plate difficult and painful.
By the postseason, his inability to throw out baserunners had become a real liability.
The Yankees' plan is to have top prospects Montero, Austin Romine and last year's backup catcher, Francisco Cervelli, compete for time behind the plate. The Yankees could also bring in a catcher, but Montero will have the inside track.
"I do have people who believe he is ready at the catching position with a tremendous offensive bat," Cashman said of Montero. "But nothing gets handed to somebody. You have to take it and earn it. He'll have a chance to come to spring training and fight for something, and he'll either show he is ready for something at a higher level or not."
Veteran shortstop Derek Jeter could be next to face some changes.
If Jeter is re-signed, the team has no plans to move him off shortstop next season. There is also no known plan for a position switch anytime soon. However, the Yankees want to decrease the number of games that Jeter plays during the regular season. In his postseason exit news conference, manager Joe Girardi said that he would like to play Jeter fewer than the 157 games the captain appeared in during 2010.
Officials with knowledge of the team's plans have said the reason that top shortstop prospect Eduardo Nuñez started to learn third base and the outfield last year is because the Yankees envision him as a super utility player who can spell Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Jeter will turn 37 next season, while A-Rod will turn 36.
With the Yankees and Jeter currently in contract negotiations, the team could inform Jeter during his talks that they may lessen his time at short and possibly move him down in the lineup from his customary leadoff spot. At the end of the season, Girardi would not rule out Jeter batting lower in the order.
Many baseball officials say that the appropriate time to have the conversation about the possibility of less playing time, switching positions and a batting order demotion is when you are negotiating a new contract.
So Posada's role appears to be changing, and his good buddy, the captain, could be informed next.