New York Yankees: Maldonado Or Higashioka As The Backup Catcher?

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka
Jul 3, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka (66) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, it was reported that Austin Romine signed a one year, $4.5 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. Romine will be going into a starting role with the Tigers, a role well deserved.  However, he’s leaving the New York Yankees with a decision on who the new backup catcher will be.

The team is reportedly interested in signing Martin Maldonado, a catcher on the Houston Astros in 2019 that worked extremely well with Gerrit Cole. Cole had a 1.57 ERA in innings that Maldonado caught him.

But at the same time, the team feels really comfortable using Kyle Higashioka as the backup. Higashioka previously served as the “third catcher”, primarily playing with the Railriders but getting called up in September and when Gary Sanchez hit the IL.

Which one is the better fit?

In my opinion, it’s Higashioka.  Higgy has spent a lot of time with Yankees pitchers, and you can’t make a decision to sign somebody based off one player. If they were to sign Maldonado, they would need him to fit well with all pitchers, not just Cole.

Both players also have a similar play style. They are defensive orientated and don’t have great offensive numbers. Higashioka hit .214 in 2019 and Maldonado hit .213.

Higgy has shown offensive potential, and has surprising power. In May, I saw him hit two home runs and drive in seven runs in a AAA win over the Syracuse Mets. He has the potential to have more of those types of games.

Maldonado is a bit older, 33, and will want more money than Higashioka is currently getting paid. Saving money on somebody like the backup catcher is ideal to have money to pay the big guns.

Going with Kyle Higashioka instead of signing Martin Maldonado as the backup catcher is the better move for the Yankees.