The Yankees decision to stick with catcher Gary Sanchez for the 2020 season and beyond isn’t a surprise, considering the lack of quality catchers on the open market. Sanchez isn’t a deficient catcher, though, he just goes through extended cold streaks that severely hurt his production and consistency.
The Yankees home-grown talent is very reliant on his confidence and mental abilities to shake the bad games from his psyche. Still, that reality has been problematic for Sanchez in the past, specifically during postseason play.
This offseason, the Yankees let reserve catcher Austine Romine test free agency in which he accepted with open arms and signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers, leaving the Yankees with a potential void. Manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman believe Kyle Higashioka can fill the vacant position with ease, and he did impress at times in 2019. Still, the depth at the position isn’t substantial, and Sanchez, when battling through inconsistent play, is a different player entirely.
The Yankees saw what Gary Sanchez could do last season:
In 2019, Sanchez did enjoy a period of success, and when healthy, he was a very productive player that can rack up home runs at an accelerated rate. An injury-plagued 2018 season brewed caution as to whether he could return to full form again, but it’s clear he has the potential to be one of the best catchers in the league when playing at peak performance.
The second half of the 2019 season, when he was riddled with ailments, saw him bat .207 with 10 homers, 20 RBIs, and a .785 OPS. This was after logging a .871 OPA in his first 261 at-bats. Just before the playoffs began, Sanchez slid awkwardly into second base, pulling his groin, which resulted in a devastating blow to his production in the playoffs.
He finished the postseason hitting .127 with one homer and three RBIs over nine games. He was mostly a plank of wood in the batter’s box. Injuries once again hurt Sanchez in a time of need, which has been a regular occurrence throughout his career. The Yankees need to find a way to manage his workload and keep him from overstraining his weakest muscles (groin, hamstring). Only then will El Gary be able to reach his potential.
To conclude, the Bombers aren’t taking a massive risk with Sanchez in 2020, no more than any other season where they play the waiting game for him to go down with an injury. Proceeding with caution is the only fool-proof tactic they can exercise.