John Flaherty defends Yankees’ Gary Sanchez: ‘There is still a lot of potential with him’

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Hal Steinbrenner, the owner, managing general partner and chairman of the New York Yankees, said on Tuesday that the team won’t be parting ways with struggling starting catcher Gary Sanchez. He believes the “Kraken” will return to form in 2021. “We’ll get him back,” he said, per Bryan Hoch.

Aaron Boone, the New York Yankees’ manager, also said the right words: “I still have a ton of confidence in Gary Sanchez.” Yet, they didn’t show their confidence in the man throughout the playoffs.

Sanchez was regularly benched in favor of Kyle Higashioka. The trend started in the regular season and became more evident come playoff time. Boone prefered Higgy’s blocking prowess and game-calling traits to Sanchez’s offensive potential.

Sanchez only played in three postseason games for the Yankees and took nine plate appearances. He hit a home run, but not much more. He was never given the opportunity to establish any offensive rhythm.

The Yankees’ struggling catcher

During the regular season, Sanchez struggled to the tune of a .147/.253/.365 line in 27 games. Yet, he was able to hit 10 home runs and his offensive potential remains that of one of the league’s best-hitting backstops.

And, despite the New York Yankees’ management saying they do not envision trading him, YES Network’s John Flaherty certainly sees that scenario.

“There’s still a lot of upside with Gary, and I could see him going somewhere and rebounding and being a very good player again … I would not be surprised if Sanchez rebounds, either in a Yankees uniform or somewhere else,” he said.

Flaherty knows what he’s talking about. He played three seasons as the Yankees’ catcher and 14 in total in the bigs.

“The one thing I will say is that we noticed pitchers throwing fastballs right by him, middle of the plate and up,” he said. “To me, that would be concerning, because we know that high velocity is a part of this game.”

Regarding his defense, Flaherty explained that “clearly the season wasn’t great, the one-knee stance behind the plate … his framing numbers got better, but it was told to me at the beginning that they didn’t expect Gary to block balls to his left and right from that stance. The expectations of what they’re looking for behind the plate have changed, and it’s going to be a very tough decision, as he’s in line to get a nice raise (in arbitration).”