The New York Yankees are firmly in the midst of a roster crunch behind the plate after rookie Austin Wells forced the issue in September.
Wells, promoted for a road series in Houston, appeared overmatched in his cameo at first blush, creating more 2024 questions than he'd answered. Somewhere along the way, though, the whole package clicked; in a teeny-tiny 70-at-bat sample size, Wells posted a 97 OPS+, hitting .229 with four bombs. These numbers seem perfectly average, but were buoyed by his final nine games, where he hit all four homers, posting a 1.176 OPS and .344 average.
Even more stunning? During his early struggles at the plate, copious articles were written about how his offense should eventually catch up to his rock-solid defense, which would've been unfathomable for anyone who followed his minor-league development. There was talk of Wells as DH, Wells as first baseman, Wells as trade chip ... which was quickly silenced in September by a much more fun discussion: Wells as building block.
2022 All-Star Jose Trevino should return next season, and while he debuted in spectacular fashion, he's probably better suited to a load-sharing/backup opportunity anyway. That tandem makes sense ... but it leaves both Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt out in the cold. Would you believe that has placed both men firmly in secret trade conversations the past few weeks?
Yankees Rumors: Ben Rortvedt, Kyle Higashioka pushed onto trade market by Austin Wells
The offseason begins in earnest five days after the World Series, at which point these chats can get a little louder.
Nov. 17, 2023 is this season's non-tender date (not to be confused with a Tinder Date, which can also be extremely non-tender). Higashioka is as good as gone; this is his final season before free agency, and he's not suited to be anyone's third-stringer. Rortvedt, who has minor-league options and plenty more control attached to him, might be more appealing in trade. The Yankees also have no shortage of prospects waiting in the wings, from breakout Ben Rice to Antonio Gomez to Agustin Ramirez, who'll probably be protected on the 40-man this winter.
Higgy might not be traded -- but it'll only be because the whole baseball world knows they'll be able to sign him post Nov. 17 anyway. There's typically not a lot of demand for someone who'll be available in three weeks, free of prospect charge. Rortvedt, though? Interested parties, present your best and final offers soon, because New York is ready for the changing of the guard.