The New York Yankees (deep breath) technically could stand to improve at the catcher position, if you operate under the assumption that Jose Trevino won’t maintain a pace of 7-for-21 in RISP situations with only three strikeouts all year long (paired with exceptional framing).
Trevino’s been a revelation, but Kyle Higashioka hasn’t delivered whatsoever after an explosive spring — and his defense/framing numbers have also taken a step back with increased responsibility.
Acquiring two months of Cubs standout Willson Contreras could give the Yankees a much-needed boost at the back of the lineup, especially considering Giancarlo Stanton, battling ankle soreness, is no sure bet to stay healthy all year long. If the top of the lineup falters (Anthony Rizzo, too, is struggling), then the defense-first names at the back end only look more glaring.
The Cubs could help, as a possible one-stop shop for all the Yankees’ varied insurance needs, though Contreras would represent the most glaring upgrade.
Thus far, Higashioka has posted an impossibly low OPS+ of 29 in 68 at-bats, alongside a .224 OBP and three (count ’em, three!) extra-base hits. Contreras, even while pushing through a recent slump, has an argument for being the best-hitting catcher in baseball. He’s been worth 1.3 WAR with a 137 OPS+, five homers, 14 RBI, and a .376 OBP.
And the best part is? He only requires a two-month commitment, and will hit free agency at the end of the season. The Yankees will not need to stake a pile of prospects on Contreras’ immediate future, and he can likely be had for a similar value to Anthony Rizzo in 2022.
3 Willson Contreras trades that could bring star Cubs catcher to Bronx
3. Yankees Deal 3 Top-30 Prospects to Cubs for Willson Contreras
Would it even take a trio of top-30 names to nab Contreras after Anthony Rizzo cost only a pair in 2021 (Alexander Vizcaíno and Kevin Alcantara)? The Yankees even let the Cubs upgrade their ask in exchange for Chicago covering the rest of Rizzo’s salary.
Contreras is in a better place offensively than Rizzo was at the time of that deal, and the Yankees are in more dire straits behind the plate than they were at first base last year with Luke Voit en route back to the active roster.
In this deal, we’ve given the Cubs a top-10 Yankees prospect recovering from Tommy John surgery in Gomez, which fits with Chicago’s non-timeline, as well as Alexander Vargas, a tantalizingly talented teen who ranks 16th on the MLB Pipeline Top 30. As we know from the Yu Darvish deal, this Cubs front office prefers prospects as far away as possible in these types of deals.
We’ve added Breaux (No. 25 on MLB Pipeline’s list) in case Chicago wants a catcher with power potential. Adding a third prospect to the pool feels somewhat unnecessary, but the negotiations will likely get to that point.