In a move that seems to round out the depth chart at catcher, the New York Yankees sign Erik Kratz to a minor-league deal.
For now at least, Erik Kratz is the new backup to the backup for the New York Yankees at catcher. MLB insider Jon Heyman tweeted the news:
Erik Kratz agrees to minors deal with Yankees
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 20, 2019
Presumably, Kyle Higashioka is now the No. 2 catcher, after longtime Gary Sanchez understudy Austin Romine signed with the Detroit Tigers. Kratz will likely start out with the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, an injury away from a call-up to the Bronx.
This is not Kratz’s first time in pinstripes. In fact, he’s a 1.000 career hitter as a Bomber, going 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs during a 2017 cup of coffee.
He then spent 17 games at SWB in 2018, before joining the Milwaukee Brewers. Kratz found himself back in Scranton following short stints with the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays last season.
Kratz, 39, has hit .205/.252/.354 with 31 homers in 853 career MLB at-bats. He’s also a .292 hitter in nine postseason games, for what it’s worth.
If the Yankees don’t make any more moves at catcher, there’s a good chance he will show up in the Bronx in 2020.
Sanchez has missed significant time in each of his first three full seasons. He’s averaged about 105 games over that stretch, including only 89 in 2018 and 106 last season.
Per NJ.com’s Pete Caldera, Kratz has a reputation for solid leadership and above-average defensive skills. Another possibly interesting aspect of his game is his pitching experience.
Kratz is the proud owner of a solid 3.60 ERA in five MLB innings pitched, according to Baseball-Reference. Even more impressively, he kept the ball in the park and only issued one free pass.
The Yankees used multiple position players on the mound in 2019, including the now-departed Romine.