With just minutes to go before today’s doubleheader against the White Sox, the Yankees have announced a series of roster moves. Outfielder Joey Gallo and catcher Kyle Higashioka have been placed on the COVID-19 injured list. Catcher Ben Rortvedt was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL. Additionally, the club recalled righty David McKay and signed catcher Rob Brantly to the active roster.
The club hasn’t provided any information about why exactly Gallo and Higashioka have been placed on the COVID list, though manager Aaron Boone did say that Gallo was “under the weather” yesterday, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Players can be placed on the COVID-related IL for positive tests, experiencing symptoms or for contract tracing purposes. Under the league’s 2022 health-and-safety protocols, players who test positive are subject to a 10-day absence from the club. It’s possible to be reinstated in less time if the player has gone 24 or more hours without a fever, received a pair of negative PCR tests, and been given approval from a team physician and the MLB/MLBPA joint committee (a panel of one league-appointed and one union-appointed physician).
With Gallo out, the Yankees still have Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton for their outfield mix. Though with Stanton frequently in the DH slot, it’s possible that Marwin Gonzalez gets more time on the grass. Estevan Florial, the 27th man for today’s doubleheader, could also stick around for some added outfield depth in the days to come.
Higashioka and Jose Trevino have been combining to handle the work behind the dish for the Yanks, with each appearing in parts of 24 games so far this year. Brantly, 32, is a journeyman catcher, having played for the Marlins, White Sox, Phillies and Giants, before suiting up for the Yankees last year. He was outrighted and re-signed to a minor league deal in the offseason. Through 14 Triple-A games this year, he’s hitting .257/.341/.371, 96 wRC+. He’ll presumably act as Trevino’s backup until Higashioka is eligible to return.
As for Rortvedt, he recently underwent knee surgery and isn’t expected to return to game activity for 6-8 weeks, making his transfer largely a formality. Acquired alongside Josh Donaldson in this offseason’s trade with the Twins, he has yet to appear in a game for the Yankees, starting the year off with an oblique issue before this knee injury surfaced.
McKay, 27, was signed by the Rays to a minor league deal over the winter but was traded to the Yankees in April. He’s yet to appear with the big league team, but has been throwing well in Triple-A. In 14 2/3 innings with the RailRiders, he has a 1.84 ERA and 36.8% strikeout rate, though that comes with a 14% walk rate.