The New York Yankees have addressed the catcher this offseason by means of quantity and not quality. Having brought in two additional catchers to compete with Kyle Higashioka, the consensus is that manager Aaron Boone and Co. aren’t sold on the reserve option backing up Gary Sanchez.
The inevitable truth is that Sanchez’s injury history has forced the Yankees into a hole in the past, luckily, they’ve had Austin Romine to hold down the fort, but he was in search of a starting role this offseason and found an opportunity with the Detroit Tigers.
Who are the Yankees betting on to backup Sanchez?
The 40-man roster currently holds two catchers who don’t have minor league options, and while their veteran presence offers value for the A-ball level pitchers, they cannot be trusted to excel in the majors. Right now, Higashioka is the golden goose, but his offensive production in 2019 doesn’t justify any optimism in his potential moving forward.
Having hit .214 last season over 18 games, it’s hard to believe the Yankees are investing this much faith in the 29-year old, but his small sample size suggests that he might have lacked the reps to prove his worth. Not bringing in a better option leads us to believe Boone is confident he can hold down the job being Sanchez while Erik Kratz and Chris Iannetta battle for a roster spot in the minors.
While Kratz and Iannetta are older players, they’re plush with experience and knowledge. In fact, they might be able to help Higashioka develop to a degree. Iannetta is an excellent source of wisdom for the younger players, as he’s played for the Mariners, Angels, Rockies, and Diamondback during his career, earning three playoff appearances. His 1,122 regular-season games should give Boone the peace of mind that he has an experienced catcher at his disposal, especially defensively.
Kratz’s 61 wRC+ suggests that his offense is quite weak, but his defensive efficiency is reliable, earning 20 defensive runs saved during his career.
The two options are both defensively stout, but they don’t offer much in the offensive category. The Yankees will be doing everything they can to mitigate injuries to Sanchez, but he’s been unable to avoid such ailments the past few seasons.