And such is the case with general manager Brian Cashman trading reliever Albert Abreu to the Texas Rangers for backup catcher Jose Trevino before Opening Day. The move, at the time, was rightfully criticized.
Abreu had finally emerged as a viable bullpen arm after spending over five years with the organization. It’s not like New York’s bullpen was invincible, either (though it kind of seems that way right now). There are still durability and performance-based questions to consider.
Additionally, Trevino was (again, at the time!) seemingly being acquired to fill the backup catcher role while Ben Rortvedt made his way back from an oblique injury. So that was the swap? An innings eater in the ‘pen for a guy who could get released in a couple months? Great.
One month into the season and that assessment couldn’t be more wrong. Abreu’s control issues have persisted in Texas, resulting in a 9.07 FIP and 1.96 WHIP in his first 7.2 innings of work despite a 3.52 ERA.
On the other hand, Trevino has apparently become the favorite catcher among the Yankees’ pitching staff, now becoming Gerrit Cole’s personal guy in two of his last three outings. He’s no threat offensively, but that doesn’t matter when he’s contributing elite-level defense.
Jose Trevino has been a shocking difference maker for the Yankees
On top of his top-end pitch framing, Trevino, overall, has 2.4 Defense and 1.5 Fielding ratings from FanGraphs, which further emphasize his defensive impact. He already has four Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) this year, which was Gary Sánchez’s career high back in 2018. His 0.4 dWAR is also near the top of the AL (the leader has 0.7).
What the Yankees needed to do most this offseason was avoid subpar play that was costing them runs left and right. Sánchez was one of the main culprits, whether you believe it or not. So was Gleyber Torres at shortstop. Sadly, so was Luke Voit at first base.
All of those positions have been upgraded defensively and the Yankees became the first AL team to 20 victories on Monday with a slim 1-0 win over the Rangers. The 2021 Yankees probably lose that game 1-0 after the offense goes silent and somebody makes a boneheaded play on defense to keep the inning alive.
Plus … the personality! Trevino has solicited the help from New York fans to get advice on what’s the best shaving cream and where to get the tastiest pizza. The guy simply rules.
We’ll remind you once again that the Yankees do not need the best player possible at every position. They need some guys to play certain roles and have it all come together. Sánchez’s redundancy and eventual decline on the offensive end truly showed how much of a liability he was, as his defense never improved (and actually regressed).
Trevino shoring up the play behind the plate due to his gameplanning (which was praised by manager Aaron Boone!) has been a key missing factor for the Yankees for years. Now that they have it, it’s definitely no coincidence they’re one of the best teams in baseball at the moment.