New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez, the whole story and what has not been answered

Part 1 – Gary Sanchez tendered a contract

After a lousy season and many questions as to if Gary Sanchez would be allowed to remain with the New York Yankees. Yesterday that question was answered in part when the Yankees tendered him a contract. Why they offered him a contract is still open to discussion. Do they think they can fix him or was it to increase his value on the trade market?

The New York Yankees have consistently said that they can make Sanchez a star catcher, but after five seasons in the majors, they are still looking for that formula. This season it got so bad that Sanchez was frequently replaced by backup catcher Kyle Higashioka who was a better defender and a better hitter near the end of the season. Higashioka also caught more in the postseason than Sanchez.

Part 2 – Examining Gary Sanchez’s career

Yankees sign prospect Gary Sanchez

At the age of seventeen in 2009, the New York Yankees signed Gary as an international free agent, giving him a $3 million signing bonus. After signing, he started playing with the Gulf Coast Yankees, but he was promoted to the Staten Island Yankees a year later. In 2010, he finished the season with a batting average of .329 with 8 home runs and 43 runs batted in and was called one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He started the 2012 season with Charleston but was quickly promoted to the Tampa Yankees and eventually to the Trenton Thunder. in 2015; he was promoted to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. He got his major league appearance as a pinch hitter on October 3rd, where he went hitless in two at-bats. When the season was over, he played for the Arizona Fall League, where he led the league in home runs.

Sanchez competes for starting catcher

During spring training in 2016, Gary competed with Austin Romine for a backup catcher’s job, but Romine won out, and Gary started the season with the Rail Riders. The Yankees again promoted Sánchez to the major leagues on August 3, and he recorded his first major league hit that same day. On August 10, Sánchez went 4-for-5, with his first major league home run and 3 singles. On August 16, Sánchez had his first two home run game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Early in 2017, Gary served his first stint on the DL. Later in the year, he participated in the Home Run Derby, beating Giancarlo Stanton 17-16 but losing to Miguel Sano.

Yogi Barra held the New York Yankee record for the most home runs by a catcher record until Gary broke it with 33 in September of 2017. That same season he received the Silver Slugger Award and tied for the most passed balls in the majors. In 2018 he was again on the DL and was out for a month. Also, during the year, he was criticized for lack of hustle and more passed balls. After being on the DL twice, Gary played in only 89 games during the year. He finished the year batting .186 and got the award for the most passed balls in majors.

A Gary Sanchez rebirth?

Gary this past season, as in the past year, was again criticized for his lack of hustle and more passed balls. But on April 7th Gary hit 3 home runs in the same game, but he quickly found himself on the IL again. After a few weeks, he returned to a stretch of 0-11 at the plate. He then hit the first grand slam of his career against the San Francisco Giants. During a game in July at Target Field, Sanchez again found himself on the IL, this time with a groin strain. He returned to the rotation much sooner than expected and as a different player. No more lack of hustle no more passed balls, and more home runs. The fact is that Sanchez, Romine’s trio, and Higashioka was the most potent catcher trio in the AL.  As the season progressed, he found himself in a home run contest with Gleyber Torres falling one short of Torre’s 38.

Fast forward to the coronavirus shortened 2020 season.  Sanchez has managed to stay healthy.  However, he has been nothing short of horrible offensively. On the defensive side of the plate, he has 5 passed balls on the season so far.  That equates to roughly 13.5 in a standard season.  All of last year, in 162 games, he had only 7 passed balls. So, his 2019 defensive improvement has been lost this year. Sanchez has not had an acceptable batting average since 2017.  This season he is batted just .143, his worst season batting average ever, and it doesn’t look like he will soon improve.  Sanchez, while batting, looks like a deer in the headlights.  He looks uncomfortable and completely lost.

Part 3 – What’s wrong with Gary Sanchez?


First, the good: Sanchez calls a good game, and he has a bullet of an arm the few will test while trying to stealing bases.

Now what’s wrong: His framing costs pitchers from getting strikes, especially high in the zone. This is important because pitchers are throwing more and more high fastballs. Ball Blocking is also a problem for Sanchez. This is important as when a ball that should have been blocked isn’t; it allows a runner to advance into scoring position or even take home. Based on a regular New York Yankee’s season, Sanchez had 13.5 passed balls this season. Only two catchers in all of baseball have had more passed balls than Gary Sanchez since 2019, including backup catchers.


Hitting has always been a problem for Sanchez, more in the area of contact rather than for power. We all know that Sanchez and hit monster boomers, especially to left field. They are not only long home runs but very high as well. For Sanchez, his problem is getting on base more consistently. This past season he had the worst batting average of his career .147. That is the worst batting average of any catcher in baseball, and that includes backup catchers. He swings and misses more than league average at every pitch type, even if he’s a little closer to league average against the harder pitches.


Gary Sanchez is just plain slow on the base paths and always has been. But this past year, it’s the worst that it has been. According to FanGraphs, his 2020 speed was 25 feet per second. That’s a one foot per second drop from last year. Here’s why this is important; as a player ages, he loses speed, and with that slower speed, it allows the defense to play further back, thus causing the hitter to be out more often because the defender has more time to act.

Part 4 – Is there a way to repair Sanchez?

If I knew the answer to that, I would be making the big bucks as a New York Yankee consultant because they obviously haven’t been able to figure it out either.

The Yankees are still trying to find the right structure for Sánchez in his preparation. Throughout the sport, many veteran players frequently say that their careers changed for the better when they found a routine that could translate to consistent, successful results. The New York Yankees are still trying to find that formula.

One thing that may help Sanchez is his ability to stay healthy, which he has had problems with until this year. For all we know he started off hitting poorly at the beginning of the season, and with such a short season, he may have been trying too hard, causing him to swing and miss constantly.

Another idea I floated was acquiring Yadier Molina, a future Hall of Famer, to platoon with Gary. He would supply the New York Yankees with a more reliable defender and hitter. He also may help fix Sanchez when his three catching coaches haven’t been able to do so.