AL East Links: Murphy, Romine, Rays, McGowan

MLBTR's Offseason In Review series continued earlier today with my look at the Orioles' winter moves, covering everything from the Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz signings to the lack of progress on extensions for Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters.  Here's some more from around the AL East…

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews) that he's "hearing from a lot of people about" catchers John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine.  The Yankees have been shopping their catching depth for weeks, and now that Francisco Cervelli has won the backup job, Murphy and Romine could be more expendable.  Cashman, however, doesn't feel pressure to move either players.  "They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got," Cashman said.
  • Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he has informed Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix that they won't be making Tampa's Opening Day roster, in order to give the two players extra time to find another Major League opportunity.  The two veterans signed minor league deals with the Rays earlier this winter and have the ability to opt out, though Betemit told Topkin that he would play for Tampa's Triple-A affiliate if he couldn't find a roster spot elsewhere (Topkin believes Nix feels the same way).
  • Mark Lowe is also open to returning to the Rays, the veteran right-hander tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.  Lowe's family lives in the Tampa area and he praised the Rays organization, saying that he would be willing to pitch at Triple-A unless, like Betemit and Nix, he finds a job with another team.  The Rays granted Lowe his release earlier today after he was also told he wouldn't make the 25-man roster.
  • The Blue Jays' decision to make Dustin McGowan their fifth starter raises concerns about whether McGowan is up to the task both performance-wise and health-wise, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes.  Since McGowan made the rotation almost by default given how the Jays' other options struggled, Davidi wonders "if he and the Blue Jays are playing a game of Russian Roulette with his career" by returning McGowan to a starting role before he's even fully stretched out.  The injury-plagued McGowan missed three of the previous four seasons with shoulder and knee surgeries but pitched effectively over 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2013. 
  • Corey Brown didn't invoke the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Red Sox and will report to the club's Triple-A club, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.

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