Yankees sign defense-first catcher after Ben Rortvedt injury, wave of C issues

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Over the weekend, we posited a pair of more exciting solutions for the Yankees' current catching conundrum. After all, the need for depth at the position is very real; after Ben Rortvedt's aneurysm, Kyle Higashioka's departure for the World Baseball Classic left Jose Trevino as the only viable big-league catcher in camp. Very good for High-A stud Carlos Narvaez, but not great for the team's Triple-A pitchers or immediate prospects.

While we would've rather seen the Yankees go big with Travis d'Arnaud, they've managed to address the depth issue on Wednesday without swinging for the fences, bringing in former Orioles, White Sox and -- predictably -- Rays catcher Nick Ciuffo this week.

Ciuffo, a former Tampa Bay first-round pick back in 2013, has only made scant big-league cameos over the years, playing 19 games with the Rays in 2018-19 and two more with the 2021 Orioles. He's 9-for-48 with a pair of doubles and a homer during that span.

The Yankees aren't prioritizing his offensive profile right now, though. They need sturdiness. They need availability. And they opted for Ciuffo.

Yankees sign catcher Nick Ciuffo after Ben Rortvedt injury

For what it's worth (probably not much), Ciuffo hit .277 in 42 games with the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate last year, OPS'ing .736 with five bombs.

He's always been a defense-focused player, though, sporting an exceptional throwing arm behind the plate. Over the course of his minor-league career, he's cut down 43% of would-be base stealers.

The one blip on Ciuffo's radar is a marijuana suspension from back in 2018 that cost him 50 games of development, but it hasn't dinged his reputation as a receiver whatsoever. Here's hoping that Rortvedt eventually gets right, too, and both catchers can show off their left-handed swings in tandem in Scranton.

Hey! Who wants to be Austin Wells' mentor?!