After trading away, Gary Sanchez to the Minnesota Twins in a blockbuster deal that added Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the New York Yankees’ roster, general manager Brian Cashman left a void at catcher. Sanchez, who has struggled to reach his potential over the last few seasons, presenting a liability on defense and inconsistent hitting offensively, will look to resurrect his career in Minnesota.
In the trade, the Yankees also acquired Ben Rortvedt, who enjoyed just 39 games of action last season at the major-league level. Over 98 plate appearances, he recorded a .169 average with a 30% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. However, he was a bit more successful at the minor-league level in AAA, recording a .254 average with five homers and 22 RBIs. The problem is, Rortvedt came to the team with an oblique injury that will keep him sidelined in the batter’s box for a few weeks, making him a scratch for the start of the regular season.
It is clear the Cashman was looking for an upgrade defensively, as the Yankees project to deploy a platoon a catcher with Kyle Higashioka and Rortvedt.
Recent reports have suggested, though, that the Yankees inquired about Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, per Bruce Levine of 670 The Score.
Contreras is preparing to hit free agency in 2023 with one year of service time left before he’s eligible. At 29 years old, Contreras is coming off a season where he belted 21 homers, recording a .237 average with 57 RBIs. His 28.6% strikeout rate isn’t ideal for the Yankees lineup, but they prefer sluggers who can launch homers and provide better defensive qualities compared to Gary.
Last year, Contreras posted a .993 fielding percentage with three passed balls over 935.2 innings.
There is no question that Contreras is a far better player compared to Sanchez defensively, and his offensive capabilities are very similar. Analytically, sacrificing strikeout rate for home runs is something the Bombers have stuck by in recent years.
Despite acquiring Rortvedt from Minnesota, the Yankees shouldn’t feel confident at the catcher position, given Higashioka’s inconsistencies offensively.
With just one year until Contreras hits free agency, his value isn’t astronomical. The Yankees could probably acquire him for a few mid-level prospects, which makes a potential trade realistic.