3. Ben Rortvedt
It seems as if we’re endlessly reminded of the disastrous Josh Donaldson-Isiah Kiner-Falefa “blockbuster” trade with the Minnesota Twins. While the Yankees got rid of Gary Sánchez — something they could’ve done without a trade and saved $9 million — they swapped Gio Urshela for Donaldson, whose performances were pretty much night and day (especially from an offensive perspective) in 2022.
Catcher Ben Rortvedt was the final piece of that deal and he wowed upon arrival with his meaty biceps. Unfortunately, knee surgery followed by an oblique injury wiped out his 2022 season. He was on the Yankees roster for a hot second but never appeared in a game. He played 48 games between Single-A, High-A and Triple-A, but hit just .218 with a .705 OPS.
Fans can’t imagine his leash is long, especially with the catching situation already set. Jose Trevino will start, Kyle Higashioka will back him up — and both of them have at least two more years of club control remaining.
Unless Rortvedt does a total 180 and becomes an overnight masher, the Yankees would likely much rather give any potential backup reps (in the event of an injury or trade) to guys like Austin Wells and Josh Breaux — both of whom have limited MLB experience, just like Rortvedt.
The only reason for keeping Rortvedt on the 40-man is to avoid starting the service-time clocks for those two prospects since they’re not quite ready yet. But a few more months of development could convince the Yankees otherwise if Rortvedt falters while Wells and Breaux flourish.