Yankees facing major problem at catcher

mlb: new york yankees at cincinnati reds, ben rortvedt
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees faced a disappointing defeat on Monday night against the Chicago White Sox, losing 5–1. This loss puts them in a precarious position regarding their Wild Card chances. While several issues plague the team, the catcher position’s offensive liability stands out. This article examines the situation, the performance of key players, and potential future moves.

A Difficult Defeat for the Yankees

Despite loading the bases three times against the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. The 5–1 defeat has further endangered their Wild Card prospects, placing them in a turbulent situation.

Offensive Struggles at the Catcher Position

A pressing concern for the Yankees has been the offensive woes at the catcher position.

José Treviño’s Season-Ending Injury

The struggles became more pronounced after José Treviño was shut down for the season due to a right wrist tear. Treviño remained one of the best offensive catchers in the game, and his absence has been felt.

The Reliance on Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt

The Yankees have turned to Kyle Higashioka and 25-year-old lefty hitter Ben Rortvedt.

Higashioka’s Performance

Higashioka, a 33-year-old veteran, ranks 16th in catcher framing runs and 30th in strike rate. Offensively, he is hitting .223 with a .260 OBP, including six homers, 26 RBIs, a 28.5% strikeout rate, a 5.2% walk rate, and 70 wRC+. It’s possible that Higashioka may be allowed to walk in the upcoming season unless the Yankees pick up the final year of his arbitration.

Rortvedt’s Struggles

Rortvedt has a 50.8% strike rate this year with zero catcher-framing runs across 266 pitches caught. Despite being eight years younger than Higashioka, he is hitting a dismal .115 with a .258 OBP, making him a non-factor in the batter’s box in his 14 games.

Prospects and Potential Moves

Considering Austin Wells

The Yankees might consider 24-year-old catcher Austin Wells, recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton. He’s hitting .260 with a .387 OBP. However, caution should be exercised as these numbers might drop drastically at the MLB level.

Looking to the Future

At some point, the Yankees need to explore opportunities for their young prospects, especially if the Wild Card continues to drift further away. Fortunately, Treviño has several years of arbitration left, offering a solid defensive option.

Finding an Offensive Replacement

The team could benefit from finding a younger piece with more offensive upside to replace Higashioka.

The New York Yankees find themselves at a crossroads, and their struggles at the catcher position illustrate broader concerns within the roster. Assessing and addressing these issues will be vital as they strive to navigate through this tumultuous period.

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