When the New York Yankees flipped right-hander Albert Abreu and left-hander Robby Ahlstrom to the Texas Rangers for Jose Treviño, he was viewed as a backup catcher who, at best, could fight for semi-regular playing time with Kyle Higashioka.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we can now firmly say Treviño not only has earned the majority of the playing time in the catcher position, but he has also performed like a top-ten catcher in Major League Baseball.
Yes, it sounds insane, but the backstop, who grew up as a Yankees fan, is currently ninth in MLB in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR (FanGraphs’ version) among catchers with 1.0. He is actually fourth in the American League, behind Jonah Heim, Alejandro Kirk, and Sean Murphy.
The defensive specialist has given the Yankees surprisingly good offense
Most of Treviño’s value comes from his defensive contributions. As our own Alexander Wilson explained, he is very good at framing, the art of stealing strikes. He is a fantastic game-caller and is a terrific defensive presence behind the plate.
The Yankees, however, have gotten surprisingly good offensive production from the 29-year-old. So far, Treviño is slashing .275/.318/.413 with three homers, 12 RBI, and a 114 wRC+, which means he has been 14 percent better than his peers.
Treviño, most likely, isn’t a true-talent top-ten catcher in baseball (he is a career 73 wRC+, after all), but he has shown enough to be considered the Yankees’ starter and is an asset with the mitt. He has made some improvements in the batters’ box, so if he can settle in between 90-100 wRC+, he could be an asset for as long as he wears pinstripes.
Higashioka is still very much a part of the Yankees’ plans, and we will have to see how Ben Rortvedt performs once he returns from injury. But Treviño has earned the right to get most of the playing time behind the plate for the foreseeable future and he has been one of MLB’s best and most consistent catchers.