As first reported by Pirates Prospects’ reporter John Dreker on Wednesday, the New York Yankees are signing veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league contract.
Ryan Lavarnway won't be coming back to the Pirates. Reports are that he's signing with the Yankees
— John Dreker (@JohnDreker) November 7, 2018
Lavarnway spent the majority of the 2018 season in Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians where he hit .288/.375/.485 in 77 games. He appeared in just six games at the major league level with the Pirates, hitting .667/.667/.833 in just six at-bats.
Joel Sherman confirmed the move on Thursday morning and breaking the news that Lavarnway is also receiving an invite to spring training with the Yankees in 2019.
In need of catching depth, #Yankees are signing Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league deal and invite to spring training.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 8, 2018
The news of the Yankees signing Lavarnway comes on the heels of the Yankees announcing that Gary Sanchez needed surgery to clean up his shoulder. Sanchez is expected to be ready for opening day, but with just Kyle Higashioka and Austin Romine in the upper levels of the system, they needed some additional catching depth.
The Yankees catching depth has taken a hit the last week after losing four catchers to free agency in the persons of Victor Rey, Chace Numata, Jorge Saez, and Wilkin Castillo. Numata, Saez, and Castillo along with Higashioka, Erik Kratz, and Francisco Diaz made up the catchers in Double-A and Triple-A for the Yankees in 2018.
Kratz left the Yankees, opting to sign with the Brewers, leaving just Higashioka and Diaz as the only remaining two catchers from that group in the organization.
Lavarnway will fill a role similar to Kratz did in 2018. Giving the Yankees a veteran catcher with major league experience in Triple-A to work with their young pitchers and be ready to fill in at the major league level if the need arises.