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About Spring Training: All’s Well That Ends With Wells

About Spring Training: All’s Well That Ends With Wells

By Tim Kabel

March 11, 2023


As we round the corner in Spring Training and head toward Opening Day, some things are starting to take shape. Yesterday, Jose Trevino played his first game. He had a home run and seemed to play well. That is a good thing. However, despite the fact that he was an All-Star in 2022, Trevino is not a superstar. He never will be a superstar. He is an excellent defensive catcher who can occasionally get a big hit. If he continues to do that, he could have a very nice career. Look at Rick Dempsey. However, that does not mean he should be or will be the Yankees’ starting catcher.

Ever since the Yankees drafted Austin Wells, we have heard that he would be able to hit on any level where he was playing. Not only could he hit, but we were also told that he would hit for power. As a big, left-handed hitter, he seemed to be perfect for Yankee Stadium. The only knock on him was that he was not considered to be a very good defensive catcher. The Yankees place a great value on defense, particularly when it comes to the position of catcher.

We read reports throughout Wells’ minor league career that some people in the organization and many outside of the organization felt that he would ultimately have to change position. However, the Yankees’ hierarchy steadfastly stated that he would not change position. They viewed him as a catcher, which is how he viewed himself. Viewing yourself as something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea or that you would be any good at it. I could view myself as a jockey but, every horse at the racetrack would sign a petition to prevent me from doing so. The difference is that Wells has worked very hard to improve his prowess as a catcher. When he came to the Yankees last fall, many pitchers lauded his dedication, ability, and willingness to learn. Although he did not catch a single game that Gerrit Cole pitched, Wells studied the pitcher and had conversations with him. He prepared himself to catch Cole. He has now caught Cole during Spring Training and like the other pitchers, Cole has heaped praise upon Wells.

No one is going to say that Austin Wells is a better defensive catcher than Jose Trevino. He's not. Trevino has won a platinum glove. However, Wells is able to handle the defensive demands of the position and he is a far superior hitter with much greater potential than Trevino. They both have a role on this team. Most likely, Ben Rortvedt does not. I suspect that Rortvedt will either be the primary catcher in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, or he will be traded. Most likely, he'll be traded since he is out of options.

It seems the only question regarding Wells and Trevino is who will be the primary catcher. I would suspect that based on the fact that the difference in their defensive abilities is not overwhelming, but Wells seems to be the more dangerous hitter would indicate that Wells will be the primary catcher. Trevino has occupied a backup role before and initially was supposed to be the backup to Kyle Higashioka. The Yankees certainly could be a competitive team with Trevino as the primary catcher but, the prospect of Wells hitting bombs into the stands at Yankee Stadium may be too difficult to resist for management. Besides, if the pitchers are on board with pitching to Wells, that will be half the battle.

I predicted early on that Wells would become the starting catcher. That seems likely to happen. Trevino will certainly catch his fair share of games and Wells may occupy the designated hitter slot on a few occasions but, I suspect that Wells will catch the bulk of the games. If that happens, I think the Yankees as a team will benefit because Wells will continue to develop defensively, and his offensive output could be very high. He could hit for a decent average, hit a lot of home runs, and drive in a lot of runs. Pitchers like that sort of thing from their catcher.

Jose Trevino and Austin Wells can certainly coexist as Yankees’ catchers this season. I believe that if Wells is the primary catcher, the team will have greater success. As I noted earlier, Trevino could be the modern equivalent of Rick Dempsey, if only Wells could become a reasonable facsimile of Thurman Munson, Yankees’ fans would be ecstatic.


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Mar 11

Austin Wells is that rare commodity in today's game. An offensive catcher who can be a dangerous bat in the lineup who can also be a good defensive catcher and who can also call a good game for a pitcher. And for that, the Yankees should hold on to him and play him. He automatically upgrades the Yankee lineup because the catching position is no longer the "easy out" that it has been since Gary Sanchez regressed and was ultimately replaced by "defense first" catchers. He should either be the every day catcher with Jose Trevino as his backup, OR, he and Trevino can simply platoon, Wells starting against right handed opposing pitchers and Trevino starting against left handed oppo…


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Mar 11

Isn't the obvious choice a platoon? Trevino l/r OPS splits 2023: .782/.494; 2022: .882/.616. Wells hits lefty, of course, but I can't find MiL split information on him. Still, with Trevino's glove, he should be starting against all left-handed pitchers.


Mar 11

Has Rortvedt’s option status been resolved?

A reasonable facsimile of MUNSON!? Yeah, we would be ecstatic. But maybe we should be happy with somewhat less. I would take Posada lite.

Mar 16
Replying to

What option status? He’s out of options, there is no issue there. He has to either make the 26 man roster or be subjected to waivers.


Alan B.
Alan B.
Mar 11

Keeping Ben Rortvedt around does nothing to help the Yankees at all. It takes playing time away from a bunch of prospects in AAA. Then there's the fact he will no longer be on the 40 man roster, but the current starting catcher there, Narvaez, is. The only thing it does is not bruise Cashman and his gang's ego as he's the only thing left from that disastrous trade. For Minny, all it did was allow them to sign Correa.

I always thought that by the time we come out of the ASB, Wells would be catching the most of the games. Trevino not being able to catch the first 14 games this Spring Training, only potentially sped up that…

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