When the Yankees ditched Gary Sánchez following the 2021 season, they opted to go all in on defense at the catcher position. No more silly arguments about whether Kyle Higashioka's noodle bat was a better fit than the high-flying Sánchez during playoff series. Now, both options would have noodle bats.
Kidding. Kind of.
Jose Trevino was fantastic in the first half of 2022 with the bat, parlaying a cavalcade of clutch moments into an All-Star appearance before falling off in the second half (like the rest of his teammates). He still took home Platinum Glove honors as the league's best defensive player, though, making the best of the last few years (before the automated strike zone) by framing spectacularly.
This season, something was different, though. All Trevino's offense has to be is league-average for him to be an exceptionally valuable player. This year's 58 OPS+ was ... not that. Luckily (annoyingly), there was an explanation for this downturn; Trevino had been nursing a wrist tear all year long, and finally opted to pull the plug on his subpar season before Friday's game against Kansas City.
Time and again, the Yankees have proven willing to tolerate struggles or an inactive player on the bench in the name of nursing injuries rather than correcting them. Time and again, it has not paid off.
Suddenly, last week's report that the Yankees were eyeing catching help at the deadline makes more sense. Will they opt for an offensive upgrade? If so, it'll be a minimal one, at best. Salvador Peréz isn't walking through that door. There are precious few catching studs available.
Will they roll with Ben Rortvedt instead? Is there any chance we see the bat-first Austin Wells in September if he excels at Triple-A? Shouldn't the Yankees grab some sort of insurance policy for those two, considering Rortvedt has suffered through enough injuries to make fans question whether or not he's real like that lady on the plane?
If New York wants to play it safe and add some experienced bodies, these three names make sense.
3 trade options at catcher for 2023 Yankees at trade deadline
Victor Caratini, Milwaukee Brewers
Would the Milwaukee Brewers really trade Corbin Burnes' personal catcher during the heat of the NL Central race? Brother, the Milwaukee Brewers would do a lot of weird things to mess with chemistry. And, based on their most recent offseason, bothering Burnes might be a feature, not a bug.
Caratini has bounced around in recent years, but has displayed above-average backup catcher power with a flair for the dramatic in Chicago, San Diego, and now Milwaukee. 2019 with the Cubbies remains his best big-league season; that year, he hit 11 bombs in 244 at-bats, sporting a .795 OPS. On the flip side, 2022 was his career nadir; nine longballs, but a .199 average and .642 OPS, by far his lowest since "figuring it out" at the big-league level.
This season's been something in between. Caratini's at .240, his highest full-season average since '19, but right in line with his productivity in 44 games in 2020. He's known as a solid receiver, and even in a "down" offensive year, his 91 OPS+ mark puts Trevino's to shame. He costs $2.8 million for the season. Wandy Peralta? $3.35 million. Both are free agents at the end of the season. Could a win-win swap be in the offing for two theoretical contenders?