New York Yankees News: Gary Sanchez’s struggles persist in winter ball (video)

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, to his credit, is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic League. He is hoping playing winter ball may sharpen the skills that caused him to have the worst season of his young career. This is the first time he has played in the Dominican League in six years. Unfortunately, his debut Friday night was not encouraging.

After a horrible season for the Yankees, it was questionable whether the Yankees would trade him or not tender him an offer and let him become a free agent. In a move surprising to many, the New York Yankees offered him a contract for play in the 2021 season. Sanchez reportedly will cash in for nearly $6 million.

After having two injury-riddled seasons, Sanchez managed to stay healthy this season after having some minor back problems in spring training. But staying healthy wasn’t the cure for Sanchez’s lack of hitting and regressed skill behind the plate. Gary Sanchez managed 10 homers on the season but hit a pitiful .147 for the whole season. He wasn’t sharp behind the plate either, with five passed balls, equivalent to 13.5 passed balls in a regular season. That compares to only 7 missed balls in 2019.

Friday night for the Toros del Este’s, he went 1-5. He did not catch in the game as he was the team’s designated hitter for the Friday night game. Sanchez batting fourth in the lineup. In a somewhat encouraging sign, he did hit a single over the second baseman’s head. However, he kept doing what he did all last season, swinging and missing on balls low and outside. The problem with his swing is that pitchers know if they throw down and out of the zone, Gary will swing at it and strikeout like he did three times last night.

If you watch the video below, you will see him aimlessly flailing at those same pitches. Sanchez faced right-hander Albert Abreu, a 25-year-old Yankees prospect who made his debut during the 2020 season.

Even though Sanchez was tendered, it doesn’t mean he will remain with the Yankees; he still could be used in a trade package for a pitcher or other team need. The Yankee front office hopes that Sanchez will answer his poor play in the winter games; if not, his future with the Yankees is still unclear.

Kyle Higashioka is the only other backstop on the roster. Higashioka also earned the role of ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher by midseason. If the Yankees cut Sanchez in spring training, they will then have to find two additional catchers. Erik Kratz, the backup during the 2020 season, has retired from baseball after mentoring Deivi Garcia in his debut. If Sanchez is cut, the Yankees will have to pay him a termination fee.