Yankees veteran catcher might have played his last game in pinstripes

clay holmes, yankees
Jun 10, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka (66) and relief pitcher Clay Holmes (35) celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are on the brink of pivotal roster changes for the upcoming 2024 season. One of the critical decisions looming is the selection of their primary catcher. The team’s options include Jose Treviño, Austin Wells, Ben Rortvedt, and Kyle Higashioka.

Treviño vs. Wells: A Defensive & Offensive Balance?

While signs point to a dwindling future for Higashioka with the Yankees, Treviño’s defensive skills might earn him a secured spot. However, Wells’ offensive capabilities could well give him a shot at the starting role, potentially outpacing Treviño. Rortvedt, although being Gerrit Cole’s favored catcher, lacks the batting prowess, especially when compared to the left-hand hitting strength Wells brings.

Austin Wells, the 24-year-old rookie, has played a mere 18 games for the Yankees. Despite a slow start, hitting only .197 with a .229 OBP, Wells has shown promise by hitting four home runs and accumulating 13 RBIs. His recent performance showcases an improvement with a 132 wRC+, batting .244 and a .262 OBP. His commendable 14.3% strikeout rate demonstrates his aptitude for reading the game, keeping his discipline intact.

Yankees’ pitchers have been vocal about their confidence in Wells as a catcher. This endorsement, coupled with Wells’ rising form, could mean Higashioka’s tenure with the Yankees is nearing its close.

Higashioka’s Future and Numbers

At 33, Higashioka has a season left before he becomes a free agent in 2025. This year, his batting stats settled at .232 with a .272 OBP. His season also saw 10 home runs, 34 RBIs, a 28.7% strikeout rate, a 5.6% walk rate, and an 84 wRC+. While his defensive skills as a catcher remain noteworthy, his role might now be more fitting as a backup or a supplementary addition. Given his potential as a starting catcher, the Yankees could consider trading him. A strategic trade might fetch the team a valuable bullpen pitcher or a promising prospect.

Yankees’ Flexibility and Prospects

The depth in the Yankees’ roster provides them with ample flexibility, potentially allowing them to tap into the trade market. Above all, Austin Wells emerges as an intriguing young prospect. The Yankees should consider granting him ample opportunities, considering his promising offensive trajectory.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: