Yankees’ budding prospect could steal the starting catcher job in 2024

mlb: new york yankees at toronto blue jays, austin wells
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

For 2024, the New York Yankees already have a logjam at the catcher position. They have four backstops under contract: 2022 Gold and Platinum Glove winner José Trevino, longtime Yankee Kyle Higashioka, Ben Rortvedt, and prospect Austin Wells.

There is no way the four players will be on the 2024 Opening Day roster, so things will happen before that point. The Yankees could non-tender Higgy, they could option Wells to Triple-A, or they could choose to have Rortvedt in Scranton, too.

Wells, however, is good and determined enough to steal the starting catcher job next year and frankly, that’s what the Yankees prefer. Ideally, the Bombers would enter the season in a timeshare behind the plate, with Wells having developed enough offensively and defensively to play 60-70 percent of the time and Trevino, a stellar defensive player, the remaining 30-40 percent while serving as Wells’ mentor.

The Yankees finally have a capable offensive catcher

Wells started out his Yankees tenure with a cold bat, but a late surge allowed him to enter the offseason, having posted a .229/.257/.486 line with four homers, a 97 wRC+, and 0.4 WAR in just 19 games. In total, between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors, Wells hit 20 home runs, and that, for a catcher, represents really nice production.

The offseason and spring training will be crucial for Wells and the Yankees’ plans for the catcher position. His teammates have praised the way he works and prepares for every game, he studies pitchers and opponents, and his footwork and instincts have improved behind the plate. If he can improve his throwing arm, he will increase the chances of stealing the catching job in the Bronx.

As long as Wells keeps contributing league-average offense or better as he did in the entire 2023 season at several levels, he will play. Now, if he can increase that production a bit while also improving as a defensive catcher, he could theoretically earn even more playing time. In any case, the Yankees finally have someone who can provide consistent offense from the catcher position.

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