A day after they stood pat at the MLB Trade Deadline, the Yankees got some much-needed reinforcements. On Tuesday afternoon, the team announced that they activated reliever Zack Britton and catcher Kyle Higashioka from the injured list. As a corresponding move, the club optioned pitcher Miguel Yajure to the alternate site and designated infielder Jordy Mercer for assignment.
Britton, 32, landed on the injured list with a hamstring strain on August 20. The left-handed reliever spent the early part of the season as the Yankees’ closer, where he pitched to a 2.00 ERA (2.47 FIP) in 10 games. Known for his turbo-sinker, Britton induced a 60% groundball rate, but this year he also incorporated a slider to miss bats. The team desperately missed his presence at the back end of the bullpen.
Higashioka, meanwhile, was placed on the injured list retroactive to August 6. The 30-year-old catcher appeared in three games, collecting two hits in the process. Across parts of four seasons in the Bronx, Higashioka has hit .168/.212/.329 with six home runs (40 wRC+).
The Yankees made room for Britton by optioning Yajure, who pitched three scoreless innings against the Rays last night. That said, he was likely unavailable for a few days after that long of an outing. Teams swap out players for fresh arms all the time. I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of Yajure.
I can’t say the same for Mercer, though, who had four hits in 20 at-bats for the Yankees. Another team will likely pick him up before he clears waivers. Sacrificing infield depth seems to suggest that Gleyber Torres’ return is imminent, which would be another welcome sight for an offense-depleted team.
It also means the Yankees will carry a third catcher, Erik Kratz, for the time being. The club clearly values what he brings to the clubhouse, having brought him into the organization in parts of three seasons. Kratz, 40, has established himself as something of a fan favorite, especially for his relationship with young starter Deivi García.