Erik Kratz quickly became a fan favorite in his time with the New York Yankees.
In an offseason that could see the Yankees part ways with numerous veterans, including outfielder Brett Gardner, Kratz is on the way out.
When the New York Yankees open play in 2021, they should not expect to have Kratz around, either on the 25-man roster or in the minors.
Erik Kratz had a long MLB career
Erik Kratz epitomized a man who never stopped pursuing his goals.
A 29th-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002, Kratz didn’t reach the majors until he was 30 years old. Kratz went 2-for-5 with an RBI against the Houston Astros on July 17, 2010.
Kratz played for nine teams in 11 seasons, spending most of that time with the Philadelphia Phillies. Across two stints in Philadelphia, Kratz hit .230 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Kratz was the perfect backup catcher, serving as a mentor who could also play first base or take the mound in mop-up duty when the team needed him.
Kratz became a fan favorite with the New York Yankees
Although he only played 20 regular-season games with the New York Yankees across two stints, Erik Kratz quickly became a fan favorite.
Kratz ended the 2017 season with two hits in two at-bats — a perfect 1.000 average — and two RBIs in pinstripes.
After a few seasons elsewhere, Kratz returned to the Yankees earlier this year. Kratz hit .321 with four RBIs in 16 games this season. He also pitched two innings of mop duty and allowed two home runs.
Kratz also worked with several of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects in the minor leagues. The veteran backup went viral earlier this year when he emotionally reflected on his relationship with Yankees pitching prospect Deivi Garcia.
According to MLB.com, Kratz specifically pointed out how much he enjoyed mentoring players from Latin America.
“Some people forget that they want it just as badly, and there’s people at home that want it just as badly for them. They’re not around them; they’re not around their family, they’re not around the people there. Being older, hopefully I can be somebody that can step in and help that relationship and not everyone sees it.”
Garcia went 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA in six starts. The 21-year-old struck out 33 hitters and walked only six across 34.1 innings of work.
Garcia, who allowed a run in his only inning of postseason work, is expected to enter 2021 in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Erik Kratz may have caught his final pitch
If Deivi Garcia becomes a star for the Yankees next year, he’ll have to do it without Erik Kratz.
Kratz, who turned 40 in June, told FanSided he is not playing in 2021. It is not known if Kratz would consider returning in 2022.
Kratz only made roughly $100,000 last year because of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on MLB salaries. His departure is not a significant blow to the Yankees’ books, but it could affect the team’s culture and locker room.
Kratz served as a sage mentor for the team’s top minor-league prospects. One has to wonder how Garcia will fare without Kratz, who served as the rookie’s personal catcher in the big leagues last season.