When the Yankees made their March 13th trade with the Twins, it seemed like they sorted out a bunch of positions. While they gave up two 2021 starters in Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela, they seemingly filled shortstop with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and also the now-open third base spot with Josh Donaldson. While getting rid of Sánchez opened up a catching spot on the roster, the third player going to New York in the deal, Ben Rortvedt, addressed at least a backup role.
However not even a week after the trade, Rortvedt was injured during spring training. As the spring continued on, it became clear that he wasn’t going to be ready to be part of the Opening Day catching duo with Kyle Higashioka, and some sort of catcher was still needed. In the final days of spring training, the Yankees found someone thanks to a trade with the Rangers.
In just a few months, that catcher, Jose Trevino, would become an All-Star and turn into one of the best stories of the 2022 Yankees.
2022 Statistics: 115 games, 353 plate appearances, .248/.283/.388, 91 wRC+, 3.7 fWAR
2023 Contract Status: First-year arbitration eligible
On April 2nd, the Yankees added Trevino from the Rangers for Albert Abreu and a minor leaguer. Just from what Trevino gave the Yankees, the deal was an obvious success. It becomes an even bigger one considering that Abreu ended up back on the Yankees via waivers, and gave them some okay innings after struggling with the Rangers and Royals.
However when the trade happened, it didn’t seem like the biggest deal in the world. Trevino had received the most catcher reps for the Rangers in 2021, but prior to that, he had seemingly been a fairly normal solid glove/not great bat backup catcher.
Trevino made his Yankee debut by coming off the bench and playing the 11th inning in the eventual walk-off win on Opening Day. Two games later, he got his start, and recorded his first Yankee hit. Throughout the first month of the season, he was used like and mostly produced like a backup catcher. Then on May 16th, Trevino recorded his first home run as a Yankee, a three-run shot that played a big part in a 6-2 win. From there, he was off to the races.
Starting with May 16th and through the end of June, Trevino hit .314/.355/.570. He slowly went from backup, to splitting time with Higashioka, to pretty much claiming the starting job for himself with the incumbent’s bat sputtering. Trevino played so well that he got himself into the final vote for the starting catcher spot for the AL All-Star team. Although he came up short to the Blue Jays’ Alejandro Kirk on that front, he was named to the team as a backup.
"If you would've told me a year ago I wouldn't have believed you. A New York Yankee and an All-Star? I wouldn't believe you." - @HipHipJose5 pic.twitter.com/6PfGosFQpA— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 10, 2022
Trevino got a chance to play in the game, singling and having a memorable interaction with fellow Yankee Nestor Cortes while the two of them were the AL’s battery.
Trevino could not quite keep up that pace at the plate over the second half, and put up just a .626 OPS post-All-Star break. His play in the first half had really helped the Yankees get off to their incredible start, and while he wasn’t the only one to slump down the stretch, he struggles did shorten the lineup a bit. However, Trevino being a legitimate run producer was mostly a bonus. His numbers still ended up way better than this career norms to that point, even with a down second half.
What didn’t slump at any point in the year was his defense. He grades out excellently in pretty much every defensive stat, and was quite literally the best pitch framer in baseball according to Statcast.
There’s a reason that despite putting up just a 91 wRC+ in the end, he still ended up second on the team in fWAR for position players behind only that Aaron Judge guy. His defense is that good, and in the process, he became the first Yankees catcher to win a Gold Glove since the late captain Thurman Munson in 1975. (His honors were later upgraded to Platinum level — a first for New York defenders.)
In general, Trevino is just very easy to root for. Just a few weeks ago, he showed up at his son’s school’s career day in full Yankees’ uniform and catcher’s gear.
Jose Trevino showed up at his son’s school for career day pic.twitter.com/Ros2NZc090— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) November 18, 2022
There will be plenty of questions about upgrades the Yankees could make, but, for good reason, catcher is not near the top of that list.