At this point last year, Jose Trevino wasn’t on the radar of Yankees’ fans. It seemed like Kyle Higashioka was set to be the starter with Ben Rortvedt — acquired in the Josh Donaldson/Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade that also sent Gary Sánchez away — in position to be the backup.
However, Rortvedt was — and seemingly forever remains — injured, and as we got closer to Opening Day, the Yankees decided they needed someone else with some MLB experience. Less than a week before Opening Day, on April 2nd, the Yankees acquired Trevino from the Rangers for Albert Abreu and minor leaguer Robby Ahlstrom.
At that point, no one would’ve ever suspected that an All-Star campaign was ahead for the newest Yankee.
2022 Statistics: 115 games, 353 plate appearances, .248/.283/.388, 11 home runs, 43 RBI, 17.6 K%, 4.2 BB%, 91 wRC+, 3.7 fWAR
2023 FanGraphs ZiPS Projections: 100 games, 330 plate appearances, .231/.261/.353, 7 home runs, 38 RBI, 18.5 K%, 3.9 BB%, 73 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
Trevino began the 2022 campaign backing up Higashioka. He did appear on Opening Day, but it was as a defensive replacement after a pinch-hitter was sent up for Higashioka. Early on, Trevino maybe got a little more playing time than your average backup catcher, but it was still very much a time share deal.
Around the end of May his bat started to catch fire. From May 24th to June 22nd, he OPSed 1.116 and basically usurped the starting job. He was good enough in the first half that he was named to the AL All-Star team.
"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 to play in the game, recorded a single, and caught his fellow surprise Yankee All-Star Nestor Cortes.
The catcher’s bat didn’t keep pace what what he did in the first half, OPSing .626 over the second half of the year. However, Trevino’s defense remained consistently great all season, and he became the Yankees’ first Gold Glove catcher since Thurman Munson while also earning the franchise’s first Platinum Glove in its 12-year history. In total, he put up 3.7 fWAR, which was behind only Aaron Judge among Yankee position players.
While obviously an All-Star berth was beyond expectations for Trevino in 2022, his season outpaced anything he had done to that point in his career in general. The only other time he came remotely close to the 91 wRC+ he put up last year was his 89 in 2020. That was, of course, the COVID-shortened season, and he only played 24 games and made 82 plate appearances.
The fact that 2022 was an outlier and that Trevino fell away some in the second half is why the projections for his 2023 don’t look that impressive. The 11 home runs he hit last year were more than he had hit in his entire big league career prior to that. It should come as no surprise that the 519 meh plate appearances he had before putting on a Yankee uniform still weight pretty heavily in the projections.
Also of note is that Trevino’s peripherals didn’t completely line up with his actual stats for the season, and his numbers did decline over the course of the year. There certainly is a chance that he’ll never live up to his first half from last season.
That being said, even if Trevino regresses to his hitting numbers from before last year, he could still end up being a very valuable player. That’s because his defense is that good. Last year, he ranked as literally the best framing catcher in all of baseball.
Trevino caught the majority of Gerrit Cole’s starts last year, which is something considering the Higashioka/Sánchez conundrum surrounding Cole’s starts in the previous two seasons. Sure, it would be good if Trevino can keep up the league average-ish hitting, but even if he takes a step back, he can still be a very valuable player.
Jose Trevino was one of the more fun stories on the Yankees last year. He looks set to still be an integral part of the team in 2023.