The New York Yankees have a pretty good situation at the catcher position.
Sure, Gary Sanchez is back to slumping again, but the power he brings is undeniable. Though it hasn’t been entirely great to start 2021, he seems to have made adjustments at the plate that will help him in the long run.
And then there’s backup Kyle Higashioka, who, if we’re being fair, could probably be the starting backstop on up to 10 other MLB teams. He’s a great defender and his bat has continued to surprise everybody. Some fans would argue he should be starting for the Yankees, but we won’t get into that.
So then why are the Bombers reportedly listed as a fit for free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy?
Let’s face it, the Yankees do need reinforcements, but we’ll have to wait for those as the season progresses.
How can we make sense of this report linking Lucroy, a veteran who was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals on April 12, to the Yankees?
It surely would be a worthwhile match if the Yankees had a worse backup situation, but Higgy, on top of being very good, is essentially Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. The team is not going to break up that relationship.
As for Sanchez? Though his slash line has now dipped to .204/.316/.347, the organization made it clear that he will at least have the first half of this season to show them he’s worth keeping beyond the trade deadline. It’s hard to believe they’ll give up on him after three weeks, especially after his slight improvements on both sides of the ball.
If Lucroy’s seeking a major league deal, especially with Luke Voit nearing a return, there’s no way the Yankees can give that to him at this juncture unless they parted with one of their catchers … which isn’t happening right now.
But perhaps we can delve a bit deeper and connect some future dots.
The only scenario that would work here is if Lucroy accepted a minor league assignment with the Yankees as they evaluate their catching situation. If Sanchez continues to slump, could he be dealt before the deadline? Maybe! It’s certainly not out of the question. There’s no telling what general manager Brian Cashman will do if we continue to see lackluster play from the same guys.
In the case of Sanchez, if he’s not hitting over the next couple of months, then there’s really no point in keeping him around because his defense isn’t consistently above average. Lucroy could provide reliable defense and your average offense for a catcher.
The “fit” here — if there even is one — seems to be months down the road. With other teams in need of a catcher, it doesn’t seem as if Lucroy will last that long in free agency anyway. But if there’s a report connecting these parties, it’s hard not to ponder what might happen later on this season.