Yankees seeking trade deadline support at an unsuspecting position

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees, jose trevino
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the evident need for support in the left field and another pitcher, a Monday morning report hints that the New York Yankees might be intrigued by the prospect of a catcher acquisition.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported:

“The Yankees are well-known to be seeking corner outfield help by the Trade Deadline, but sources indicate that New York also aims to upgrade its catching, starting rotation, and the back end of the bullpen within the next fortnight.”

This season, the Yankees have primarily relied on catchers Jose Treviño and Kyle Higashioka, neither of whom have contributed significantly in terms of offense. Many teams prioritize defensive catching abilities over offensive output from the position, given the importance of framing and strike rates in determining the game’s trajectory.

Treviño and Higashioka’s Performance for the Yankees

Treviño’s performance, which includes a .214 batting average, .262 OBP, four homers, and 15 RBIs, along with his lowest wRC+ (61) since 2019, suggests he’s nearly an automatic out. Despite his defensive prowess, the Yankees’ interest in strengthening their catcher position is intriguing. The only conceivable reason would be to find a more offensively potent player, possibly to replace Higashioka, currently hitting .229 with a .266 OBP, five homers, 23 RBIs, and a 77 wRC+.

While catcher reinforcement is among the least required positional upgrades on the roster, links to outfielders, pitchers, infielders, and now even catchers suggest a roster in turmoil.

Potential Offbeat Move

Should the Yankees choose a less conventional route to boost offensive support from the catcher position, Salvador Pérez of the Kansas City Royals could be a candidate. Despite suffering a hamstring strain during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, Pérez boasts a .258 batting average and a .299 OBP this season, along with 15 homers, 40 RBIs, and a 97 wRC+.

Given his current injury, the Royals might not demand a hefty return for him. However, his $20.5 million annual salary, running through the 2025 season, might be a sticking point. It’s doubtful the Yankees would risk such a substantial investment given his recent injury, making their interest in catching reinforcements rather perplexing.

Possible Scenarios

A more plausible scenario involves acquiring a young catcher on the cusp of making it to the MLB. This move could potentially sideline Ben Rortvedt. One could argue that Rortvedt, a lefty hitter who might thrive against right-handed pitching and hit home runs in Yankee Stadium, should be prioritized over Higashioka, who’s had a mediocre defensive season and dismal batting performance.

Another option is to promote Austin Wells, a 24-year-old currently in Double-A. He’s had a season with a .247 batting average, a .335 OBP, 11 homers, and 50 RBIs, earning a 115 wRC+. Despite inconsistencies, Wells, a lefty hitter, could bring his considerable power to bear in Yankee Stadium.

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