Yankees Making the Right Call Retaining Kyle Higashioka Despite Crowded Roster
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced Wednesday that the team would add catcher Kyle Higashioka to the 40-man roster this winter.
While the official transaction is yet to be made, Brian Cashman revealed Wednesday that the New York Yankees would reward Kyle Higashioka’s strong minor league season with a spot on the 40-man roster.
Before his performance this year, Higashioka was a definite non-prospect. He was selected by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 2008 draft and never showed much offensive promise during his first eight seasons as a professional. During that span, Higashioka never once finished a season with double-digit home runs or an OPS above .700.
Higashioka started the year hot in Double-A Trenton and never really slowed down. He bounced back and forth between the Thunder and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre this year, combining to hit .276/.337/.511 with 21 home runs and 81 RBI in 416 plate appearances.
More from Yankees News
- Red Sox living in different financial ‘galaxy’ than Yankees Killer Rafael Devers
- Yankees slice surprising fan favorite off roster to make room for Tommy Kahnle
- Yankees announce corresponding move, make Carlos Rodón signing official
- Aaron Judge puts more pressure on Yankees after being named Captain
- Carlos Correa-Giants-Mets bombshell makes Aaron Judge’s return to Yankees even better
The 26-year-old backstop has attributed his breakout to a change in his swing that allowed him to generate more loft and keep the ball of the ground more. He has also cited an improved performance against off-speed stuff as a reason for his success this year.
Coaches and teammates have long raved about Higashioka’s work ethic and defensive prowess. He’s been a regular fixture in the Yankees big league spring training the last few years to help handle all the pitchers needing to get ready for the season. Adding some power potential to the package has transformed him from organizational depth to a very valuable asset in a very short span.
Even with three catchers already on the roster, it seemed like a sure thing that New York would add Higashioka to the 40-man this winter rather than let him leave as a minor league free agent for nothing.
Big league ready catching is extremely scarce. New York currently has four guys who profile as at least quality backups, and you could make the argument that everyone but Austin Romine should probably get the opportunity to start somewhere next year (I mean-did you see the guys who were playing regularly for Tampa Bay?).
New York should do their due diligence by shopping Brian McCann, Romine, and Higashioka this winter. The roster has a lot of holes and there is a finite amount of catching time in a season. If they can trade from an area of depth to shore up a weak spot, by all means do it.
Next: Yankees Could Look to Arizona for Pitching Help
At the same time, I would be thrilled to enter 2017 with all four guys still in the organization. The three catcher/DH rotaton helps keep everyone rested and productive, and Higashioka can act as a safety net in Triple-A if someone gets injured.