The Yankees add defensive maestro at catcher to supplement the injuries
The New York Yankees have been losing catchers at an astronomical pace in the off-season due to injury. To start, Austin Wells suffered a broken rib, which kept him injured throughout the spring. Ben Rortvedt underwent surgery to correct an aneurysm in his shoulder that was bothering his finger.
To make matters worse, Josh Breaux has suffered an elbow injury that will likely keep him out of spring training as well. With Kyle Higashioka and Jose Treviño emerging as the only healthy catchers on the roster with MLB experience, the Yankees felt the need to bring in reinforcements.
The Yankees signed Nick Ciovo to help out:
On Tuesday afternoon, the Bombers announced the signing of Nick Ciovo, a 28-year-old left fielder with major league experience. The former Tampa Bay Rays first-round pick in 2013 had only played 21 MLB games, and was struggling significantly in the hitting zone.
Last season with the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A team, Ciuffo appeared in 42 games, hitting . 277 with a . 325 OBP, five homers, and 20 RBIs. Hosting a strikeout rate of 31.1% and a walk rate of 5.3%, he racked up 96 WRC+. However, the Yankees did not sign Ciuffo to be an offensive weapon, but rather a defensive maestro who could fill in for him as a last resort.
Ciuffo has thrown out 43% of baserunners in 414 minor league games. With good arm talent behind home plate, Ciuffo has some value, but the Yankees would prefer to go in a different direction with some of their hometown players once they return to full health.
The Yankees had high hopes for people like Austin Wells, also a left-handed bat who offers the luxury of offensive production from the catch position. Defensively, he’s not the best player, but he’s taken significant steps forward in 2022 with regards to his caught stealing percentage and pass passes allowed.
In the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ciuffo gets a few opportunities with the spring team over the next few weeks, gets a little bit of experience under his belt and absorbs it with the Yankees. He will likely start the season at Triple-A. Unless injuries show up early in the year, I don’t expect him to be with their organization for long.