DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jose Trevino’s calling card is his defense, and more precisely, his pitch framing. The Yankees believe that Saturday’s trade with the Rangers upgraded their catching depth, expecting the 29-year-old to head north as Kyle Higashioka’s backup.
Acquired from Texas in exchange for right-hander Albert Abreu and left-hander Robby Ahlstrom, Trevino posted a .239/.267/.340 slash line in 89 games last season, with five homers and 30 RBIs. Trevino ranked in the 96th percentile among pitch framers, according to Statcast.
“He’s a premium defensive catcher, and we’re really excited about that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I think it was something that we probably needed to do. Just in talking to [Trevino] last night, I know how excited he is to get here. We’re looking forward to him getting in the mix and entrenched in our culture with our pitchers.”
Trevino was 4-for-16 (.250) this spring in Rangers camp, with two doubles and two RBIs. He heard from Joey Gallo and Isiah-Kiner Falefa after the trade, and Trevino said that he was not surprised by the move, considering Texas acquired catcher Mitch Garver from the Twins in February.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this a little bit,” Trevino said in Surprise, Ariz. “I’ve always wanted to play in the postseason. As a young kid, my dad would make up scenarios where I was playing in the postseason. He’d be like, ‘You’ve got to get a hit here to win the World Series.’ I’d stay up late watching those postseason games. So I think all the hard work that I’ve put in here, I’ll just take right over to New York.”
With Ben Rortvedt still recovering from a right oblique strain and requiring a Minor League rehab stint, the Yankees had been entertaining non-roster invitees Rob Brantly, David Freitas and Max McDowell to serve as Higashioka’s understudy.
“With Higgy, Ben and Trevino, I feel like we’ve got three premium defensive catchers on our 40-man roster now,” Boone said. “We feel like there’s depth behind them with our non-roster guys that are still here; we feel like they can contribute. So we feel a lot better about our catching situation.”
The Blue Jays’ speed proved to be a headache in Sunday’s 7-5 loss for right-hander Luis Gil, one of several pitchers still in competition for the final slots in the Yankees’ bullpen.
Gil was knocked for five runs and eight hits over 2 1/3 innings, serving up three extra-base hits while bloating the 23-year-old’s spring ERA to 6.14 over 7 1/3 frames. He walked one and struck out two, throwing a wild pitch and committing a balk.
“Every day out there is an experience,” Gil said through an interpreter. “Today, facing a team that clearly wants to be aggressive on the bases — they’re changing my timing, holding on runners. It’s a good experience on how to deal with things like that and execute pitches when everything is happening around you.”
In the first inning, Bo Bichette broke for third base, prompting Gil to step off and throw wildly past third baseman Josh Donaldson. Bichette scored, as did Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who ran through a stop sign to slide in safely all the way from first base when catcher Max McDowell couldn’t handle the throw home.
“If I was able to step out and hold the ball a little longer and wait for the third baseman, maybe we have the guy out there,” Gil said. “At least, if the play isn’t doable, then hold the ball.”
With rosters expanded to 28 players through April, the Yankees are still debating between carrying 15 or 16 pitchers to begin the regular season. Gil, Manny Bañuelos, Deivi García, Ron Marinaccio, Clarke Schmidt and JP Sears all remain in contention, with two or three choices from that group likely.
“You look around and there’s a lot of guys here wanting the same thing, wanting to make the team,” Gil said. “For me, I just want to do my job, have the ability to go out there and compete.”
By gosh, it’s Josh
Josh Donaldson hit his third home run of the spring on Sunday, a two-run shot in the third inning off Toronto’s Shaun Anderson. The veteran third baseman said that he is adjusting well to hitting in the leadoff spot, which Boone has said Donaldson might do frequently this season.
“I’m pretty comfortable in the batter’s box, period,” Donaldson said. “I don’t really think it matters where I’m hitting. Part of it is that you get to set the tone early on, but I try to take my approach pretty similar no matter where I’m at.”
Donaldson is 9-for-25 (.360) this spring, with a double and six RBIs. He is looking forward to the pageantry of his first Opening Day in a Yankees uniform on April 7.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Donaldson said. “There’s not a bigger stage across Major League Baseball than Yankees-Red Sox [on] Opening Day. I think that’s going to be exciting and I know a lot of guys are anticipating the moment.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism