When the New York Yankees tacked jacked catcher Ben Rortvedt onto the end of their end-of-lockout blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Twins that more prominently involved Gio Urshela, Gary Sánchez, Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, many talked themselves into the young backstop’s projectability quickly.
Would he be Sánchez’s direct replacement, starting 100 games and hitting 20 homers, but with elite framing added to the mixture? Not right away, no. He was thought of as a backup to Kyle Higashioka who might eventually earn equal time, if all went according to plan and he busted out at age 24.
Alas, what fans didn’t know was that, at the time of the deal, he was already injured, battling a pesky oblique. Those can take months to heal. Or weeks.
Or, they can disappear entirely, only to watch knee pain and surgery steal their thunder shortly thereafter. In Rortvedt’s case, that’s what we’re dealing with. Entirely unrelated knee pain, and a painful reminder of how quickly plans can change in this game, even with things going relatively well at the big-league level.
Since the end of spring training when the Yankees added a Rortvedt contingency plan in Jose Trevino, the former Twin has been mostly an afterthought for 2022 (unfortunately), and won’t have any place to play unless Higashioka is jettisoned (which … I mean …).
That won’t be for quite a while, though, as Rortvedt’s brand-new knee surgery will keep him out for at least six to eight weeks, proving yet again that he is not A Guy.
New York Yankees backup catcher option Ben Rortvedt has surgery
Not a real guy.
After months of backfield work and hidden progress, Rortvedt played in a pair of minor-league rehab games this past week, drilling a homer and going 2-for-4. And just like that … the spigot was turned off.
Will Rortvedt and his outstanding defensive peripherals ever make their way onto the big-league roster? Quite possible; this is just a cleanup procedure, and the Higashioka Experiment can’t continue on forever, at this rate (even though the Bombers will be very fair to him as he plays out the string).
Higgy has the longest leash, Trevino has made the best impression, and Rortvedt has been entirely MIA, a hazy blot of framing metrics and biceps.
Next year could be a different story. Trevino is under team control through 2025, and pending a hot streak from the incumbent, Higashioka will not be grandfathered into a role. It’s likely that, if Rortvedt returns and takes a significant step forward at the minor-league level, that he could share the big-league gig in 2023.
Until then, though? Not a Guy.