Could Yankees’ rookie catcher steal the starting job?

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

May the best catcher win…That’s probably what the Yankees are thinking to themselves as we approach the end of spring training. Jose Trevino has returned from a calf injury, and rookie Austin Wells has made a notable push toward claiming the starting job, but a platoon may be the pather forward at catcher.

Trevino is respected as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and the Yankees have subscribed to the strategy of sacrificing offensive production for catchers. With that being said, what if they could enjoy the best of both worlds?

Wells has impressed and exceeded expectations at the position, which suggests a full-time switch to the rookie shouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

The Yankees Are Seeing Plenty of Potential From Austin Wells

This spring, Wells has been fantastic, showing off his defensive attributes behind the dish and putting his bat on full display as an offensive weapon. Over 14 games, Wells is hitting .344/.417/.656, including two homers and nine RBIs. It’s a luxury to have a catcher with offensive upside, and Well isn’t simply a contact merchant; he’s also a slugger who can capitalize on the short right porch in Yankee Stadium.

Over the final two weeks of the 2023 season, Wells showed off his power, hitting four homers with 10 RBIs, giving the Yankees a glimpse of what he could become if his defense continues to improve. Fortunately, his blocking and framing have taken significant leaps in development, so there’s plenty of reason to believe he’s the Yankees’ long-term solution at catcher.

Even catching coach Brad Asmus sees the future with Wells, suggesting he has the work ethic to continue his development:

“He works his tail off,” Ausmus said. “He wants to be a catcher. He wants to be a very good catcher. I know he’s done well, from a statistical standpoint, defensively in spring training. If he keeps moving in that direction defensively and he swings the bat like he’s been swinging it, I think he’s destined to have a long career, especially being a left-handed hitting catcher.”

However, keep in mind Trevino is no pushover either. He posted the highest catcher framing runs in baseball just two years ago, not to mention above-average defense last season despite dealing with a right wrist tear.

Now, Trevy is fully healthy and ready to contribute, but he’s a bit behind the 8-ball in spring training, only making seven appearances. It doesn’t seem as though the Yankees are ready to transition fully away from Trevino just yet, but there’s reason to believe that decision isn’t a distant one.

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