The Yankees wasted little time in their hunt for catching depth. According to Joel Sherman, the team signed veteran backstop Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. The news arrived less than 24 hours after the Bombers announced Gary Sanchez would undergo shoulder surgery this winter.
Lavarnway, 31, spent most of the 2018 season with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. He hit .288/.375/.485 with nine home runs for the Indianapolis Indians. Most remember Lavarnway from his days with the Red Sox, where he played in parts of four seasons. He was a member of the 2013 World Series championship team, and hit well in 25 games that year, posting a 104 wRC+. That was his only run of success at the plate, however, as the light-hitting backstop owns a career 59 wRC+ in the big leagues.
This seems to be a depth move more than anything. The Yankees like to have a veteran catcher in the minor leagues, just in case of emergencies. Think of someone along the lines of Erik Kratz. Brian Cashman previously mentioned that he is willing to start Austin Romine should Sanchez need more time to recover. Kyle Higashioka would likely play the role of backup, with Lavarnway in Scranton. Whatever the permutation, this move gives the Yankees some options.