The New York Yankees have plenty of off-season moves to make, but catcher is one that continues to be brought up after every season.
Gary Sanchez simply canâ€™t remain consistent, as he finished the 2020 campaign with a .147 batting average. His slugging percentage and ability to change the game with the long ball has always been his saving grace, but now his defense has become a problem, and his inability to remain in the zone has bubbled to the surface more frequently than not.
He was so poor this past season that the Yankees had no choice but to elevate reserve catcher Kyle Higashioka. Sanchezâ€™s back up eventually stole the starting gig and even became Gerrit Coleâ€™s personal catcher. This was evidently a breakout season for Higgy, who slashed .250/.250/.521 with four home runs and 10 RBIs over 16 games.
Management acknowledges that Sanchez struggled this year and that it is fair to ask about the catcher position moving forward.
â€œIt was a struggle for him the first month of the season, just timing was off, chasing a lot, leaving the zone,â€ manager Aaron Boone stated.
â€œThe loss of playing time [for Sanchez] to a large degree there at the end was more a result of what Higgy was doing,â€ Boone further explained. â€œHiggy kept earning more and more opportunities with the way he was swinging the bat and obviously what he brings behind the plate.
[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”5j95h6bgol” question=”What do you think?” opened=”0″]The question is, do the Yankees have their future at catcher in Higashioka, and can they continue to rely on Sanchez as an everyday player? [/wpdiscuz-feedback]Higgyâ€™s fantastic season was only composed of 16 regular-season games, which doesnâ€™t represent a large enough sample size to fully commit.
â€œSo, right now, in what we have with Gary and Higgy is two quality major league catchers and I do still feel like, in Garyâ€™s case, I do feel like his ceiling is really, really special.â€
â€œI think itâ€™s certainly a fair question obviously the way Gary Sanchezâ€™ season transpired, and then the way it ended with Higashioka actually starting in the postseason as many games as he did,â€ GM Brian Cashman said. â€œI think itâ€™s one of the discussion points weâ€™re going to have to focus on.â€
Cashman fully acknowledged that catcher is a position that needs some attention. They could make a dramatic change and sign JT Realmuto, electing to trade Gary Sanchez.
Sanchez was rumored to be on the trade block during the deadline this past August, and if they still see him as a movable piece, they could target Realmuto on a record deal. While I donâ€™t think the Yankees are too keen on spending that much money, considering they have two catchers they can ride the hot hand with, nothing is impossible.