Jose Trevino was one of the shining lights of the 2022 Yankees. Acquired via trade from the Texas Rangers just before the regular season because Ben Rortvedt was injured, the defensive wiz turned in a career year that saw him named an All-Star and not only win the Gold Glove for catcher, but the Platinum Glove for all-around defensive prowess in the American League. Thanks to his fun personality, skill behind the dish, and ability to come up big in the big moments, he quickly became a fan favorite, and as we headed into the 2023 season, it looked like the Yankees may have found their catcher for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, the 2023 season had other ideas.
2023 Statistics: 55 games, 168 plate appearances, 4 home runs, 15 runs, 15 RBI, .210/.257/.312, 58 wRC+, 4.8 BB%, 13.1 K%, 7 DRS, 6 Fielding Run Value, 0.9 fWAR
2024 Contract Status: Second-Year Arbitration-eligible
It would have been unreasonable to expect Trevino to repeat his 2022 performance at the plate. His 92 wRC+ was the highest of his career, and he had more home runs (11) in 353 plate appearances than he did in 519 plate appearances from 2018-2021 combined (9). Nobody, however, expected him bat to decline as much as it did: just one year after ranking 26th among the 61 catchers with at least 150 plate appearances, he finished 51st out of 59. Even compared to his pre-2022 self, Trevino was bad at the plate, a veritable black hole in an offense that had way too many of them.
As it turned out, though, Trevino wasn’t exactly healthy. On July 21st, the Yankees placed their catcher on the injured list with a ligament tear in his right wrist that required season-ending surgery. Apparently, he had been managing the injury since spring training — yet another injured Yankee penciled into the lineup on a nightly basis in 2023 — before the injury ultimately reached a point where it had to be surgically repaired. While it would be disingenuous to attribute all of Trevino’s offensive woes to the injury, it does nonetheless contextualize it quite a bit.
Of course, Trevino’s calling card isn’t his performance at the plate, but his performance behind it. And in 2023, he was his typical elite self. In just 1450 pitches, he accrued 6 Framing Runs, tying him with Cal Raleigh and Victor Caratini for eighth in baseball, and his 49.9 strike percentage trailed only Patrick Bailey, Austin Hedges, and Cam Gallagher. While, technically, this represents a decline from his 2022 performance, when he led the league in both framing runs (17) and strike percentage (53.8) by a large margin, his excellent glovework was a constant throughout the first half of the year — one whose absence was noticeable even when Kyle Higashioka, who himself is no slouch behind the dish (7 framing runs, 48.7 strike percentage), served as the primary catcher.
The Yankees’ catching unit is in the middle of a transitionary period. One of the organization’s top prospects, Austin Wells, made his debut late last season and performed well in an admittedly small sample size. Kyle Higashioka has one year of arbitration left and is out of options. They are currently carrying six catchers on the 40-man roster — Wells, Higashioka, Trevino, Rortvedt, Agustin Ramirez, and Carlos Narvaez — and are likely to trade at least one, and possibly multiple, this winter.
Trevino’s potential role in 2024 is uncertain. Will the Yankees hand the starting job to Wells, letting the light-hitting Trevino serve as the backup? Will they prefer to ease Wells into the position, letting him back up Trevino behind the plate while also getting some ABs as the DH? At this point, we have no way of knowing, and truthfully, the answer probably lies in a spring training battle. One thing, however, is clear: Trevino figures to be an important part of the 2024 Yankees.