The New York Yankees have a lot of questions to answer this offseason. If the next season is ANYTHING like the previous season, the Yankees are going to need a LOT of help in regards to their overall depth.
The position that will need some substantial help is a catcher.
So who do they have?
I’ve made a pretty good argument in a previous article about the Hall of Fame-caliber career Gary Sanchez is currently projected on. Yes, both offensively and defensively, Gary Sanchez is a future Hall of Fame catcher. His biggest bugaboo though is his injury history. He played under 130 games in 2017, a total of 89 games in 2018, and less than 110 games last season. So it’s not out of the question making the argument that Gary Sanchez should have a backup catcher who could catch closer to 60 games per season.
Austin Romine is the obvious backup for Sanchez. He’s played between 60 and 80 games per season from 2016 to 2019. He calls a great game, has caught 23% of all base stealers (comparable to Mike Piazza’s career caught stealing percentage), and gets massive timely hits. But he’s a free agent. And with Cashman and Steinbrenner still determined to stay below the luxury tax, it’s unlikely that Romine will come back for another season for the Bombers.
Which leaves at this point, Kyle Higashioka as the Yankees 2020 backup at catcher.
So What’s Wrong with Kyle?
Higashioka is a soon to be a 30-year-old catcher who has yet to play more than 80 games at the MINOR LEAGUE level. His caught stealing percentage is at 29%, which is an above-average number. He’s got a career fielding percentage of .990. I’ll take that. He does have more passed balls for his career than Gary Sanchez, something that Sanchez detractors hold against him ALL THE TIME! But he has a career batting average in the bigs of .164. Even with the all too likely scenario that results in Sanchez being a career .230 hitter, he’s going to average 30 home runs and close to (if not over) 100 RBI’s per season, we need Sanchez in the lineup more than Higashioka. (baseball-reference.com)
Unless the Yankees resign Austin Romine, the Yankees will need to sign a new backup catcher. Higashioka doesn’t have it in him to be a major league backup. Some just aren’t destined to reach the bigs. And that’s okay. But why force it for a career minor leaguer who hasn’t found big league success, when the current trend is to force out players 30 years and older?