Since the end of the 2019 season, the Yankees have been in a weird position with their catchers.
Gary Sanchez has been and will be the Yankees number one catcher for quite some time. The Kraken, as Sanchez is referred to, had some offensive struggles in the last season. Even though he hit 34 home runs and drove in 77 runs, he slashed a line of .232/316/.525, which was definitely not what everyone knows the real Gary Sanchez can do. What Sanchez has done though is immensely improve his defense.
In 12 more games started at catcher in 2019 compared to 2018, Sanchez had 11 fewer passed balls.
2020 looks to be the year where everything finally comes together, improved defense and improved offense, and Gary Sanchez is finally the amazing catcher everyone knows he can be.
Austin Romine, a staple of the Yankee team for the last few years, took to free agency and signed a deal with the Detroit Tigers.
With the Yankees’ solid backup on a completely different team, they look to Kyle Higashioka to be their new backup. Higashioka has no minor league options left, so he has to stay up with the Yankees if he makes the team out of spring training.
Even though Higashioka needs to be up with the Yankees, it seems that they are all in on him. If they weren’t so confident in him, they most likely would have re-signed Austin Romine. Higashioka also definitely has some upside.
From what the Yankees have seen from him, he is a solid defensive catcher, and the Yankees’ are not losing a whole lot defensively going from Romine to Higashioka. In addition to this, he definitely has some power. In 146 major league at-bats, he has 24 hits, and of those 24 hits, he has six home runs and seven doubles. Although 24-146 is not all that great, Higashioka can very well be a solid long-term backup.
To bolster their catching depth, the Yankees have signed veteran catchers Chris Iannetta and Erik Kratz to minor league deals.
Can also confirm Yankees agree to minor league deal with catcher Chris Iannetta to compete with Kyle Higashioka as Gary Sanchez backup. They also have Erik Kratz on minors deal. There’s your catchers.
— Anthony Rieber (@AnthonyRieber) January 9, 2020
Erik Kratz, the 39-year-old veteran, has been with the Yankees for multiple stints, and the Yankees seem to love him if they keep bringing him back. Iannetta, 37, did not have the greatest last two seasons but provides yet another solid backup to Gary Sanchez if Iannetta makes the Yankees’ roster out of spring training.
Once Romine left the Yankees to take on a new challenge in Detroit, the Yankees needed some more depth to assess their catching situation, which they now have done with Kratz and Iannetta.
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