Should They Stay or Go? (C)
The Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, one could say there's bound to a "clash" of opinions. Let's talk about it.
Today I will be discussing the Yankees catchers
Bold statistics led Yankees catchers
2022 Statistics: 115 Games, .248/.283/.388/.671 (90 OPS+), 83 Hits, 11 Home Runs, 43 RBI's, 15 BB, 61 K's, +19.1 Framing, +29.0 Def, +2.3 bWAR/+3.7 fWAR
Contract Status: Heading into Arbitration 1; Under Contract through 2025
Jose Trevino was a late addition to the Yankees roster, coming over to the team on April 2nd, 2022 after the Yankees learned that a catcher (who we will discuss later) was not going to be available to start the season. The Yankees acquired Trevino for Albert Abreu (who they later got back after being DFA'ed) and Robby Ahlstrom (a minor league pitcher who had a 6.14 ERA in Class A+ this past season). To say it was a steal is to be generous to the Rangers for giving up a valuable player for almost nothing.
Jose Trevino not only quickly grabbed the Yankees starting catching position, but he was also maintaining a .300 batting average through the middle of June and at the time was the 2nd best catcher in the American League. It's so surprise that he was the back-up catcher on the AL All-Star team. However, after he was all but assured a spot in the All-Star Game things went south. From July 1st to the end of the season, Trevino hit .238/.263/.356 with just 5 home runs. The offensive prowess of Trevino was short-lived.
That being said, Trevino was still a good catcher. He hit about as well as the average MLB catcher while combining it with the top defense numbers for all catchers.
The Verdict: Jose Trevino is not going to go anywhere. His defense behind the plate is far too valuable for the Yankees to want to move away from him. He'll continue to be the starting catcher in 2023 and likely through 2025. Players with his skillset survive for long careers in the MLB (see: Jeff Mathis) and even with slightly below league-average hitting, he'll be valuable to have.
2022 Statistics: 83 Games, .227/.264/.389/.653 (84 OPS+), 52 Hits, 10 Home Runs, 31 RBI's, 12 BB, 52 K's, +5.4 Framing, +12.6 Def, +0.6 bWAR/+1.7 fWAR
Contract Status: Heading into Arbitration 2; Under Contract through 2024
Going into the season as the projected starting catcher, Kyle Higahshioka had the backing of 7 spring training home runs to show that he was going to be a powerhouse as a hitter while also being an above-average catcher behind the plate. It didn't turn out that way. Kyle Higashioka quickly lost the starting gig to Jose Trevino after hitting to a below .150 batting average through the entire month of April.
It took until June 12th for Higashioka to hit his first home run in 2022. From then to the end of the season, Higgy hit .277/.302/.511 with 10 home runs. For whatever reason, Higgy was not great in a role as a starter. But's he was a fantastic back-up catcher. It's a position in the sport that goes without any accolades or fame, but having a solid back-up catcher is something that a team should rather have ready in case something goes wrong than be scrounging around the league looking for help.
The Verdict: As a back-up, Higashioka thrives. He has a great glove and ability to frame, a great arm for throwing out baserunners, knows the Yankees pitching staff well, and is the longest tenured player in their organization. It would be a shame to lose him. He's projected to make $1.8 Million in 2023 and the Yankees should be willing to gladly pay that money to give themselves one of the best defensive catching duos in the league.
2022 Statistics: None at the MLB level
Contract Status: In Pre-Arbitration; Under Contract through 2027
Ben Rortvedt did make it back up to the MLB this season, but he didn't get into any games. He was called up on September 9th and sent back down to Triple-A on September 12th. He got 3 games of MLB bench experience, yet didn't get into a game.
Rortvedt was the Yankees hidden piece in the Josh Donaldson/IKF for Gary Sanchez/Gio Urshela trade and as of now, there really isn't a spot for him on the MLB roster in 2023. Jose Trevino is going to be the starter and Kyle Higashioka still won't be making too much as a back-up, so there is no need for the Yankees to cut costs on either and go with Rortvedt.
Truthfully, there is not much else to say about him. He's a piece still yet to be seen.
The Verdict: Ben Rortvedt will have one minor league option remaining for the 2023 season, which is something that if I was the Yankees I would exercise immediately. Don't have any questions in the air about catching going into the season. Rortvedt should be the Catcher number 3 for the Yankees and the first man up in case of injury, but he should continue to get at-bats in Triple-A. Remember, he hit below .170 in limited time with the Twins in 2021. It isn't like the Yankees are holding back a player who is a beast with the bat. He may be a nice piece, but right now is best served as the minor league option.
2022 Statistics: 1 Game, .333/.333/.667/1.000 (177 OPS+), 1 Hit, 0 Home Runs, 0 RBI's, 0 BB's, 0 K's, +0.0 Framing, +0.1 Def, +0.0 bWAR/+0.0 fWAR
Contract Status: Unknown
Rob Brantly has been the Yankees emergency catcher who they keep in Triple-A for the past 2 seasons, and truthfully there isn't a real reason to change course here. Heck, the guy (technically) had the 3rd best OPS+ on the Yankees last year (behind Judge and Carpenter). Yes, it was because he had 1 double in 3 at-bats, but gosh darnit, it counts!
The Verdict: Jokes aside, if Rob Brantly wants to continue to play in Triple-A while being the emergency catcher for the Yankees going forward, I'd keep him. He has MLB experience and can teach the guys coming up through the system. In the grand scheme of things, signing Rob Brantly is about 1000th on the list of important things to do, but the best teams are the ones that can manage the little things as well as the big things.