With the curtain falling on the New York Yankees‘ playoff dreams this Sunday, attention has now shifted towards the 2024 season. Evaluating several prospects provides the team a much-needed direction, especially when balancing the need to keep costs down at specific positions while simultaneously enhancing the starting rotation and perhaps introducing a fresh quality bat to the lineup.
The Yankees’ Catcher Conundrum
A significant point of consideration for the Yankees remains the catcher position. The unfortunate right wrist tear injury of Jose Treviño earlier this year has necessitated rotating among Kyle Higashioka, Ben Rortvedt, and Austin Wells.
In his shortened 55-game season, Treviño batted .210 with a .257 OBP, tallying four home runs, 15 RBIs, a 13.1% strikeout rate, a 4.8% walk rate, and a 58 wRC+. A decline from the previous season’s 92 wRC+ and .248 average with a .283 OBP across 115 games. While these offensive numbers are sobering, Treviño’s reputation largely hinges on his defensive strengths. Before his injury, he boasted a 49.9% strike rate and five catcher-framing runs, fortifying his position among baseball’s elite catchers.
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Kyle Higashioka rose to the occasion in Treviño’s absence, recording a commendable 48.6% strikeout rate and securing a place in the top seven catchers with six framing runs. Yet, despite Higashioka’s contributions, the Yankees continue to view Treviño as their mainstay, given his contract that extends up to 2026 and the cost-effective sub-$3 million per season price tag through arbitration. Good news for Yankees fans: Treviño’s recovery from his wrist injury is on track, with anticipation mounting for his return in spring training 2024.
“Excited where I’m at, comfortable where I’m at,” Treviño commented recently, expressing optimism about his recovery.
His progress implies he should soon resume batting practice, setting him up for a full recovery in the off-season. The Yankees’ decision-makers face intriguing choices: continue with Wells or retain Higashioka for his final arbitration year. The seasoned 33-year-old Higashioka provides solid backup, but the Yankees’ strategic vision may lean towards younger talent and possibly infusing a left-handed batter into the lineup.