The Yankees made two minor league moves Friday afternoon, trading Triple-A catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers and releasing 1B/OF Adam Lind. The Yankees signed utility man Wilkin Castillo, primarily a catcher, out of the independent Atlantic League yesterday likely knowing Kratz would be dealt today.
Kratz, 37, came to the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations ahead of the September 1 roster expansion date in 2017. His acquisition came at a time where the Yankees needed catching depth because of looming suspensions to both Austin Romine and Gary Sánchez. Kratz went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs in four appearances for the Yankees. This season in Triple-A, he was hitting .269/.356/.538 with four home runs and six RBIs in the International League. The Brewers selected Kratz to their 25-man active roster today.
Lind was released as the Yankees await the return of Greg Bird to the everyday lineup. This all but confirms that Tyler Austin will be demoted to Triple-A when Bird is officially activated Saturday. Lind was hitting .241/.302/.414 with one home run and seven RBIs in eight games prior to his release. The minor league contract he signed contained an opt-out for June 1, and the Yankees gave him a head-start on his free agency with this release.
Castillo was with the Yankees in 2017, though only in minor league duty. The 33-year-old is a switch-hitter, and has appeared at every position except for center field in his minor league career. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, he slashed .196/.243/.286 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. He’s there to play defense and give the other minor leaguers a breather every once in a while. Castillo was hitting .314/.400/.486 through 20 games with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.
The Yankees activated RHP Tommy Kahnle from the 10-day disabled list prior to Friday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
Badly needed reinforcements are headed to the Bronx, as key contributors RHP Tommy Kahnle and 1B Greg Bird are set to be activated from the disabled list during the upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Aaron Boone provided the information in a radio interview with Mike Francesa.
The bullpen proved overworked in an ugly loss Wednesday in Texas, where the Yankees’ offense scored 10 runs but were bested by 12 from the Rangers. Tommy Kahnle will provide extra length as he serves as another arm Boone can trust in a high-leverage situation. Kahnle last pitched April 12 in Boston, before a concerning velocity drop led the Yankees to discover his right shoulder tendinitis. That likely explains his unsightly 6.14 ERA (5.69 FIP) as well as astronomical 9.8 walks-per-nine rate. So far on his rehab assignment, Kahnle has allowed two earned runs in five innings of work.
Greg Bird returns to a first base position that has actually been handled well in his absence. The 25-year-old did not make the trip north for the Yankees’ opening series in Toronto due to another surgery on a small bone spur in his right ankle. Doctors removed a coin-sized calcium deposit from the joint. Yankees first basemen have combined to hit .238/.296/.431 with nine homers and 33 RBIs to this point in the season, so they have the luxury to ease Bird back into things. I would expect the Yankees to demote an extra reliever (likely A.J. Cole) so that they can keep both Tyler Austin and Neil Walker on the active roster. On his rehab assignment, Bird has slashed .205/.367/.436 with three home runs. He likely will play one more game with the RailRiders Friday in Scranton.
Gary Sánchez, who left Tuesday night’s game with calf cramps and did not start in Wednesday’s game, will likely start behind the plate as normal to catch Luis Severino in Friday’s series opener. He’ll get at least the half-day-off Saturday as Sonny Gray will start.
Prior to Boone’s interview with Francesa, there was nervousness regarding Sánchez’s health as the team signed catcher Wilkin Castillo out of the independent Atlantic League and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. No word at this point if either of their catchers, Kyle Higashioka or Erik Kratz, are going through any injury issues. Castillo is actually quite versatile as well, logging innings at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. And, yes, he logged 6⅔ innings on the mound for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians in the Pittsburgh Pirates system in 2015.
Earlier today, the Yankees activated outfielder Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.