Yankees add competition in job for backup catcher

NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees now have more competition in the job for backup catcher, with Erik Kratz, Josh Thole and Chris Iannetta agreeing to minor league contracts Monday.

Austin Romine, Gary Sánchez’s backup the last three seasons, became a free agent and agreed to a $4.15 million, one-year contract with Detroit.

Kyle Higashioka is the only other catcher on New York’s 40-man roster. He hit .214 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 57 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and batted .278 with 20 homers and 56 RBIs at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 39-year-old Kratz was signed to a minor league deal by the Yankees last June following his release by Tampa Bay and hit .299 with seven homers and 31 RBIs at Scranton. He played for the U.S. team that failed in November to qualify for the Olympics.

Thole, 33, hit .243 with three homers and 26 RBIs at Triple-A and Double-A last year. He last appeared in the major leagues with Toronto in 2016.

Iannetta, who turns 37 in April, batted .222 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 164 plate appearances for Colorado last year.

New York also announced minor league contracts Monday with right-handers Adam Warren, Dan Otero and Nick Tropeano, and left-hander Luis Avilán.

Warren, 32, had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 4 and is expected to miss all or most of this season. He pitched for the Yankees from 2012-15 and 2016-18. Otero, 34, had a 4.85 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Cleveland last year. Avilán was 4-0 with a 5.06 ERA in 45 games for the New York Mets last season. Tropeano, 29, had a 9.88 ERA in three appearances with the Los Angeles Angels last year and went 4-6 with a 5.87 ERA in 15 starts and two relief appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake.

New York also agreed to minor league contracts with right-handers Domingo Acevedo and David Hale; left-hander Tyler Lyons; catchers Kellin Deglan and Wynston Sawyer; infielder-outfielder Rosell Herrera; and outfielders Zack Granite and Thomas Milone.

NOTES: Miguel Andújar, coming back from right shoulder surgery on May 20, is working out at third base, first base and left field at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Florida. Slick-fielding Gio Urshela hit .314 with 21 homers and 74 RBIs as the replacement at third base last season for Andujar, who was the runner-up for 2018 AL Rookie of the Year. … LHP Jordan Montgomery, limited to four innings over two appearances last year following Tommy John surgery, has been throwing since late October. “I feel pretty strong right now,” Montgomery said. … Others working out at the Florida complex have included Sánchez, LHP J.A. Happ, 1Bs Luke Voit and Mike Ford, and Gleyber Torres, who is shifting to shortstop from second following the departure of Did Gregorius to Philadelphia as a free agent.

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