Berti is a Nice Get for Yanks

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Yankees enhanced their roster flexibility and left no doubt as to who their catchers will be for the 2024 season.

The Yankees acquired utility infielder Jon Berti from the Miami Marlins as part of a three way deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Catcher Ben Rortvedt goes to the Rays, while minor league OF John Cruz goes from the Yankees to Miami who also acquired minor league OF Shane Sasaki from Tampa Bay.

Berti’s vesatility plays well for the Yankees. The 34-year old is a late bloomer who played 3B, SS and 2B last season for the Marlins, but he also played 19 games in the outfield.

The defensive metrics (although they can be skewed) portray Berti as a plus defender at third and shortstop. Berti will likely man third base until D.J. LeMahieu returns and when that happens, the Yankees have a real solid option off the bench.

With LeMahieu injured, the Yanks were short on infielders, so Yankee Manager Aaron Boone was very pleased to add Berti to the mix. “Hopefully, once we’re whole, he serves as a guy that can play all over the infield and can even play some outfield,” Boone told’s Bryan Hoch. “Quality hitter, bat-to-ball, can steal a base. I think he’s a really good addition for us.”

Berti comes off a career year where he slashed .294/.344/.405 with an OPS of .748. He doesn’t knock your socks off with his numbers, but he provides a speed factor for pinch running options late in games. In 2022, Berti had 41 stolen bases and that was before the rules were tweaked to increase steals in 2023. 

Met fans know all too well about Berti because he was a pain in their rear. In his career, Berti hit .301 against the Mets. Last season, in 11 games vs the Mets, Berti slashed .324/.425/.529 with an OPS of .954.

Now that Rortvedt is heading to the Rays, the Yankees are set at catcher with a nice balanced tandem of rookie Austin Wells, a left handed bat, and veteran Jose Trevino, who hits right handed.

Rortvedt was out of options so the Yankees had to either carry him on the roster as a back up or third catcher, put him through the waiver process to see if he would clear so they could send him to the minors or trade him.

The fact that there was any debate about losing Rortvedt at the expense of Wells was ridiculous to me. The left hand hitting Wells has already shown he’s a much better option offensively than Rortvedt, and there was not that much of a difference in their defensive skills to not keep the rookie on the roster.

Defense was always the knock on Wells but he has already shown he can be better than average defensively. Wells is building a rapport with the pitchers and is someone who will lengthen the lineup with his left handed bat.

Obviously, Wells is not proven, but you have to like what you’ve seen so far in his limited time with the Yankees last season and his progression this spring where he slashed .300/.391/.550 with an OPS of .941. I know it’s only spring training and take what you will from the numbers, but the eye test tells me he will be a solid Major League hitter.

With his left handed bat being a threat at Yankee Stadium, Wells will see a steady diet of breaking pitches, particularly on the outside part of the plate, so his discipline and an ability to not get pull happy will be important to his development.

In past seasons, Wells’ modus operandi has been to get off to slow starts at each level that he’s played at. That was the case when he came to the majors last September, but I think the Yankees have a keeper who, when this season is done, could thrust himself into the mix for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

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