The club’s primary backstops last year were Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka. Both of those players are still with the team this year and both are healthy. However, the depth options below that tandem have been banged up recently.
Ben Rortvedt recently required shoulder surgery and will be shut down for at least a month. It was reported yesterday that Austin Wells has a broken rib and will be out of action for six to eight weeks, per Marly Rivera of ESPN and Chris Kirshner of The Athletic. Today, Josh Breaux was added to the pile with reports that he has an elbow injury and won’t throw for a few weeks, per Kirshner and Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
Given all those injuries, it’s not surprising that the club is looking to bring in a fresh body, especially for Spring Training. There are often many split squad games, side sessions, intersquad games, live bullpens and so on, in order for the entire pitching staff to get up to speed for the season. In addition to the injuries, Higashioka is set to depart soon to participate in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA.
The idea of the Yankees pursuing a catcher might have some fans dreaming of a reunion with Gary Sánchez as the former Yankee is clearly the top catcher still available in free agency. However, Boland throws cold water on that, suggesting the addition would be someone more like Rob Brantly, who was with the Yanks last year. Brantly is in camp with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal, but that veteran journeyman is more the kind of player the Yankees are looking to bring in.
Aside from Sanchez, there are still a few catchers that remain unsigned, such as Robinson Chirinos, Chris Okey, Beau Taylor, Deivy Grullón, Joseph Odom and Ryan Lavarnway, though Lavarnway is slated to play for Team Israel in the WBC and is presumably less available than the others.