DUNEDIN, Fla. – The are two more days remaining in Yankees camp, and manager Aaron Boone feels he’s taking “a complete team” north on Tuesday night.
“I think we’re a better team right now than we were at any point of last year, and I would say, yes, a complete team,” Boone said Sunday. “But it’s (early) April.”
Some final touches to the Yankees’ Opening Day roster continued Sunday, with their second trade of the weekend.
In a rare deal with the crosstown Mets, general manager Brian Cashman and his ex-Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler swapped relievers.
Right-hander Miguel Castro joins the Yankees’ bullpen, with lefty Joely Rodriguez shipped to the Mets.
Castro debuted with the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, as a teammate of Yankees’ third baseman Josh Donaldson, who called him “reliable” with “electric stuff.”
Batting in the leadoff spot again Sunday, Donaldson hit his third homer of the spring against his old team, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa slugged his first during Toronto’s 7-5 exhibition win at TD Ballpark.
“We have a strong team here, we feel very good about the pieces that we put together,” said Donaldson.
“(It’s one thing to be able to talk about it, but another thing to do it (and we’re) excited about the opportunity to do those things.”
Late Saturday, the Yankees acquired catcher Jose Trevino from the Texas Rangers in exchange for right-handed reliever Albert Abreu and lefty prospect Robert Ahlstrom.
“To get a premium defensive catcher, we’re really excited about that,” said Boone. “(It’s) something we probably needed to do.”
Known as “an elite framer” of pitches, Trevino becomes the backup catcher to Opening Day starter Kyle Higashioka, who leads the Grapefruit League with seven home runs.
But the big-league outlook for injured catcher Ben Rortvedt (oblique) became a little cloudier with Sunday’s trade.
Acquired from the Minnesota Twins last month, the lefty-hitting Rortvedt is due to begin the season on the injured list.
Sunday’s Mets deal was just the third trade between the clubs since 2005, and the first since the Yanks sent minor league outfielder Kendall Coleman to Queens for infielder L.J. Mazzilli in April 2018.
Castro, 27, would seem to replace Abreu on a Yankees’ staff that will carry either 15 or 16 pitchers beginning with Thursday’s opener against the Boston Red Sox.
Teams are allowed to carry 28 players through April due to the abbreviated spring training caused by MLB’s lockout.
Castro, 27, no stranger to the Yanks from his Orioles days, pitched to a 3.45 ERA last year with the Mets, in a career high 69 games.
He held batters to a .189 average and yielded just seven homers, with 77 strikeouts in 70.1 innings, but he walked 43.
Castro owns a 4.13 ERA over seven big-league seasons, with four clubs.
Rodriguez, 30, pitched to a 2.84 ERA in 21 Yankees appearances last season, after being acquired from Texas in the deal that sent Joey Gallo to the Bronx.
The deal for Castro might impact Toms River right-hander Ron Marinaccio, bidding for a relief role.
Lefties Manny Banuelos and JP Sears are also in contention for spots, and young right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil and Deivi Garcia are in the mix as multi-inning bullpen candidates.
Banuelos, 31, has “definitely got our attention a little bit,” Boone said of the one-time Yankee prospect’s effective spring.
Sunday’s starter, Gil was not effective against a loaded Blue Jays’ lineup, yielding five runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings.
Schmidt followed and was charged with two runs over 4.1 innings, with five strikeouts.
And the Yankees might not be done dealing yet, with Miguel Andujar and several young arms as potential candidates for rotation help.
Meanwhile, the Yankees watched another potential trade target move off the board as the San Diego Padres landed starter Sean Manaea from the Oakland Athletics for their Nos. 12 and 26 prospects, as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
San Diego now has starting trade depth with its pitching staff, and the A’s have another prime trade chip in starter Frankie Montas.
Manaea is set to earn nearly $10 million this season, his free agent walk year, which might have been a consideration for the Yankees – mindful of exceeding any further luxury tax thresholds.
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.