The Rangers and Yankees have announced a trade, as catcher Jose Trevino is headed to New York in exchange for right-hander Albert Abreu and left-hander Robby Ahlstrom.
The deal represents the latest shuffle in the Yankees’ catching situation, after Gary Sanchez was dealt to the Twins as part of the blockbuster deal that brought Josh Donaldson, Ben Rortvedt, and (Trevino’s former Texas teammate) Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Bronx. The initial plan seemed to be a defense-first platoon of Rortvedt and Kyle Higashioka, though Rortvedt has yet to play in any Spring Training games due to an oblique strain. With Rortvedt not expected to begin the season on the active roster, the Yankees instead now turn to a more experienced big leaguer in Trevino, who has 156 MLB games played to Rortvedt’s 39.
Trevino and Higashioka are both right-handed hitters, making for more of an imperfect platoon fit than the Higashioka/Rortvedt combo, yet the first priority still seems to be defense considering Trevino’s lack of offensive pop. Over his 516 career plate appearances with the Rangers, Trevino has batted only .245/.270/.364. Framing-wise, Statcast considered Trevino to be among the best in baseball last season.
Today’s trade marks the third notable swap between the Yankees and Rangers in less than a year, following last season’s deals that saw Texas sent Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor to New York. It’s probably safe to assume that the two teams discussed Trevino, Abreu, or Ahlstrom at some point during those many negotiations before things finally lined up due to changing roster needs.
For the Rangers, the acquisition of Mitch Garver made Trevino expendable, as Jonah Heim now takes over as the backup catcher. Meibrys Viloria and Yohel Pozo are also in camp on minor league deals, and top prospect Sam Huff is still in the mix at catcher, even though he played only at first base after returning from knee surgery early last season.
It wasn’t long ago that Abreu was garnering attention on top-100 prospect lists, except injuries and control problems hampered his progress up the minor league ladder. Abreu has a 3.77 ERA, 24.2% strikeout rate, and an 11.26% walk rate over 455 2/3 innings in the minors, and he started 87 of his 115 games. In the majors, Abreu didn’t do much to retain a foothold in the Yankees’ bullpen, posting a 5.68 ERA and 12.6% walk rate in 38 innings as a big leaguer.
Abreu is out of minor league options, thus making him something of an expendable piece for the Yankees. The Rangers will replace Trevino with Abreu on their 40-man roster and see if the righty can get a fresh start working out of the Texas relief corps.
Ahlstrom was selected in the seventh round of the 2021 draft, and the former Oregon Duck has yet to officially begin his pro career. Baseball America’s pre-draft scouting report described the southpaw as “a fiery presence on the mound,” with the ability to consistently throw each of his three pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) for strikes. The latter two pitches are only graded as average, however, and Ahlstrom’s fastball generally clocked in the 88-89mph range, topping out at 92mph.