The New York Yankees are still trying to figure out their long-term solution of the catcher position, and it is clear that they still have a bit of faith left and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees reached a one-year, 6.35 million deal, avoiding arbitration about a month ago. That is a slight raise from his 2020 salary, but at 28 years old, Sanchez is still trying to find his potential.
Over the past few years, Sanchez has quickly regressed, finishing last season with a .147 average, 10 homers, and 24 RBIs. He recorded a career-high 36% strikeout rate and a negative WAR for the first time.
The New York Yankees are running out of time with Gary:
Defensively, Sanchez has seen his numbers drop, specifically in past balls, and caught stealing percentage. His projections for the 2021 season are measly, to say the least. FanGraphs has him with a .212 batting average and 31.5% strikeout right. His one saving grace is the 28 HRs and 88 RBIs he finishes with.
Sanchez was most recently benched in favor of Kyle Higashioka, who started a majority of the postseason and became Gerrit Coleâ€™s personal catcher. The fact Sanchez earned a raise this year tells us that GM Brian Cashman still feels he can return to his previous form, but this might be his final opportunity.
In an interview with Marly Rivera of ESPN, Sanchez explained his confusion over being benched:
It was something that had never happened to me in my career, whether in the minors or in the majors. When they benched me during the regular season, it was explained to me that I would catch one day and have a day off or catch two days and then have a day off to rest, [to] work on things.
Then the playoffs came along, and you start getting excited and you have all that adrenaline. I already felt I was in better form and I had so much desire to contribute to the team, to finally do something, which I did not do in the regular season. Feeling like I couldn’t contribute was very hard. I always kept supporting my team. But the reality is, they never told me why I was benched. I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing.
All Gary had to do was look at his production and statistics to realize why he was being benched in the postseason. This next year will likely be another rotation at catcher, but if he struggles once more, the Yankees could look to trade him to a team that feels they can expand upon his potential. He will hit free agency in 2023 and is arbitration-eligible in 2022, so whichever team is interested in his services will have one year of control.
This will give the Yankees an opportunity to recoup some value instead of him becoming a free agent and moving on to another team.