As spring training entered its final weeks, the Yankees' catching situation drew quite a bit of attention. While Kyle Higashioka has been an offensive stud this spring, there are still many who question his value over the course of a full season. The recently-acquired Ben Rortvedt has battled an oblique injury through camp and has yet to play in an actual game this spring. With the start of the season just days away, the Yankees have swung a trade with the Texas Rangers to improve their catching depth, bringing in Jose Trevino, who enters the organization with a very strong reputation for defense.
Trevino does not have a dynamic offensive profile, posting just a 64 wRC+ in 2021. His well-below-league-average offensive production also goes to show just how valuable he is on the defensive side of the ball, as still picked up 0.6 fWAR in 89 games with the Rangers last year.
The Yankees have shown repeatedly that they value pitch framing as a key metric for their catchers, and Trevino is one of the best in the game at this skill. He was in the 96th percentile of MLB catchers in 2021 for pitch framing metrics.
Yo how does Jose Trevino make these look like strikes? pic.twitter.com/yXg7Vdtf7e— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 2, 2022
Another key piece to Trevino is that he still has one minor league option remaining if the Yankees need roster flexibility in the near future. With Rortvedt on the mend, the Yankees would have been looking at Rob Brantly as their backup catcher, who does not have the pitch framing credentials of Trevino (or Higashioka).
Departing the Yankees is reliever Albert Abreu, who has been with the organization since they traded Brian McCann to the Astros prior to the 2017 season. At times, he has been considered among the best prospects in the Yankees system due to his electric arm. Unfortunately, it never came together for Abreu as a starter, and he was moved full-time into a relief role over the past few seasons.
Now out of options, Abreu was a solid option to break camp with the Yankees when the season started with a 28-man roster, but the team also was likely to find itself in a tough spot with him once the rosters condensed down to the standard 26 players just weeks into the season.
Also moving on from the Yankees was their seventh-round pick from 2021, left-handed pitcher Robert Ahlstrom. The University of Oregon product was known for his competitiveness and outstanding command and considered by some to be a sleeper that could move through the system quickly. While a loss to the system, it is the Yankees dealing from a position of depth — Class-A level pitching to address an immediate need.
Trevino gives the Yankees immediate depth behind the plate as they head into the coming season. He, like the other catching options the Yankees have in-house, is not a bet to smash the ball, but he understands and excels at the nuanced part of the catching game that has become more appreciated for its value over the past few years.