The hot topic of the last 48 hours in New York Yankee-land has been the game-ending play and injury of Gary Sanchez’s right groin. With Sanchez going back on the disabled list, the New York Yankees recalled Kyle Higashioka from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Higashioka and Austin Romine will be the catching tandem until the Yankees get Sanchez back, as long as it will be. During the first stint, they tied the league in home runs (5) for catchers. That would tell you the state of catching right now in the majors. However, Higashioka’s promotion leaves the AAA catching state rather dry. It is time for an upgrade, such as Chris Stewart.
The Yankees and Chris Stewart know each other well. Brian Cashman brought him into the organization thrice. The first was in 2008 when he signed as a free agent twice. The second time, the White Sox sent him to the New York Yankees in March 2009, then elected free agency at the end of the year. The third was in 2012, when they acquired him from the San Francisco Giants at the end of Spring Training for George Kontos. As a result of that trade, Francisco Cervelli spent most of 2012 in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees traded Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kyle Haines in December 2013. Stewart stayed with the Pirates through the end of the 2017 season then signed with the Atlanta Braves.
The Atlanta Braves had Chris Stewart up for a cup of coffee in 2018, before designating him for assignment. Right now he is catching for the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers. The other catcher in AAA for the team is Jonathan Morales, the 25th round pick of the 2015 draft. Similar to the Yankees, the catching depth in Atlanta is mediocre. Right now, Stewart and Morales are blocked by the catching tandem of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers. Both seem to have made themselves staples after the failure of Christian Bethancourt.
The reason the New York Yankees need another AAA catcher is that their only other option is Francisco Diaz. The Yankees have Chace Numata, Jorge Saez and Ryan Lidge all in AA Trenton and could easily promote one of the three, but come September, they are not exactly options for a fourth catcher if needed. If one of Romine or Higashioka were to go down with injury, people would be concerned. The rest of the options are bad. Chris Stewart would be well-served to replace them.
The only reason to suspect Atlanta would be apprehensive is that the Atlanta Braves are one injury for Suzuki or Flowers away from needing Stewart’s services. One might argue that the Atlanta Braves can live without Chris Stewart and can sign another journeyman. However, why do that when they have one in-house? The Atlanta Braves are probably going to the playoffs, so it is better to have extra services in-house.
The Yankees will need a fourth catcher soon if things go horribly wrong. The Braves could offer their journeyman for his 4th stint in pinstripes.