Kyle Higashioka: Good Yankee. Kyle Higashioka: Yankee Whose Tenure is Not Going to Survive the Team's Current Six-Catcher Logjam.
Friday felt like the day we were likely to say goodbye to Higashioka. After all, following the promotions of Carlos Narvaez and Agustin Ramírez to the 40-man roster, would the Yankees really risk carrying all six catchers into the bulk of the offseason? Would they pay Higgy his projected $2.3 million salary just to sit on the bench as a third-stringer? Would they let the veteran's lump sum prevent them from carrying Austin Wells on the Opening Day roster?
In reality, the Yankees would rather keep control over the backup they know rather than cutting bait on him ahead of the non-tender deadline out of desperation. It's increasingly unlikely by the hour that the sturdy backstop (or Ben Rortvedt, too, for that matter) makes it to Opening Day untouched.
And, well ... enter the Miami Marlins. New head honcho Peter Bendix, recently of the Rays, made it clear this week that his team is looking for catching upgrades across the board (and just non-tendered Jacob Stallings). They should aim higher than Higashioka as a starter -- free agent Mitch Garver? Salvador Perez trade? -- but could certainly do worse than the Yankees' backstop as a depth piece. South Florida would be a natural next home for the veteran; just toss Brian Cashman a projectable arm on your way out.
Yankees, Marlins should hook up for Kyle Higashioka trade rumors
Alright, how about: Kyle Higashioka for 2022 Trade Deadline target Pablo López? That's my best and final offer.
If the Yankees and Marlins couldn't finalize any deadline infield blockbusters with Kim Ng at the helm, perhaps they'll work better with the ex-Rays executive. After all, they've spent plenty of time trying to emulate Tampa Bay these past few years. Surely, they've picked up on some of Bendix's preferences and tricks.
Higashioka hit .236 and drilled 10 homers in part-time duty last season -- duty that increased in scope as Jose Trevino struggled and eventually succumbed to wrist surgery. With Trevi expected to be fully ready for 2024 and Austin Wells emerging as a legitimate offensive (and defensive) threat in September, expect Higashioka, the long-time Judge running mate, to be the odd man out. Miami might want to shoot for the Wells, but should be satisfied to land among the stars (Higgy Pop).