According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have signed journeyman catcher Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The team hasn’t announced the signing yet, but that’s not unusual. In recent years the Yankees have announced their minor league signings and non-roster invitees all at once a week or two before camp.
Lavarnway, 31, was once a notable prospect with the Red Sox, and he’ll provide some catching depth in the wake of Gary Sanchez’s shoulder surgery. This signing has been in the works for a few days now, possibly before Sanchez’s shoulder started barking, and the surgery might’ve ramped up the team’s efforts to get a deal done. Who knows. The Yankees needed another Triple-A catcher anyway.
This past season Lavarnway hit .288/.375/.485 (145 wRC+) with nine homers in 77 Triple-A games with the Pirates. He also went 4-for-6 as a September call-up. Lavarnway is a .208/.268/.326 (59 wRC+) hitter in 423 career big league plate appearances. He is not regarded as a good defender at all. His framing and throwing numbers (career 20.2% caught stealing rate) are pretty bad.
With Sanchez rehabbing from shoulder surgery, Kyle Higashioka and Lavarnway are the catching depth behind Austin Romine. The Yankees needed another catcher to pair with Higashioka in Triple-A even before the Sanchez injury. I wonder if they’ll try for another minor league depth pickup just to have some more options with Gary rehabbing.