With the conclusion of the World Series came the post-season comments from New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrunner. During his press conference, he mentioned the catcher position as one that needed revisiting.
General manager Brian Cashman also noted that they would be reevaluating catcher and potentially investing capital into upgrading the spot.
Of course, making a sweeping change at catcher would indicate the departure of Gary Sanchez, or simply the benching. Last season, Sanchez earned $5.6 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. This was a significant raise from the 670K he earned in 2019. However, his production vastly underwhelmed compared to his financial investment.
He finished the 2020 campaign with a .147 batting average, a 36% strikeout rate, and a .365 slugging percentage. He had 10 homers and 24 RBIs, but his homers shouldn’t mask his inadequacies across the board. In addition, his defense was inconsistent and eventually became a liability.
Sanchez ended up sitting for a majority of the post-season, while reserve catcher Kyle Higashioka earned more reps and became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher.
Nonetheless, it seems as if the Yankees are still committed to Sanchez, and are close to offering him a new contract. Extending him long-term would be a bad move at this point, considering how poor he performed last season and his degradation since 2017. He has put together three seasons of inadequate play, despite his 34 HRs in 2019. He is a great slugger and one of the best power catchers in the MLB, but every other part of his game has seen a decline in play.
This is subject to change but I hear #Yankees are leaning towards tendering Gary Sanchez a contract. He could be back in the Bronx after all.
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) November 20, 2020
The New York Yankees will likely go with the hot hand:
If the Yankees elect to stick with Higgy and Sanchez next season, they will likely play the hot hand and rotate. It is not a terrible idea, considering Higashioka finished last season with a .250 batting average and 0.5 WAR.
Steinbrenner also mentioned that the Yankees were significantly affected by COVID-19 financially, so they will be trying to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Trading or acquiring a big-name catcher is probably not one of their top priorities.