The New York Yankees tendered catcher Gary Sanchez this off-season, providing him with a pay increase to $8 million for the 2021 season. However, the team has not decided on their long-term future at catcher, and Sanchez continues to struggle both offensively and defensively.
This past season, Sanchez hit .204 with 23 homers and 54 RBIs. While he remains a solid slugger, he posted just a .730 OPS and 0.7 WAR. While it is entirely possible to Yankees roll with him for one more season, they have one young prospect climbing the ranks that looks like the future at a spot of weakness currently.
General manager Brian Cashman gushed about their first-round pick from 2018, Austin Wells, attesting to his growth.
â€œThose two guys continue to reinforce â€” one, as expected (Wells), and the other, that heâ€™s the real deal (Dunham),â€ general managerÂ Brian Cashman said on Sunday,Â via NJ.com:
Wells, who has spent the last three years in the Yankees’ farm system, played in 103 games this past year at 21-years-old. At Low and High-A ball, featuring with Hudson Valley and Tampa, he posted a collective .264 average with 16 homers, 76 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
The young prospect presents not only a slugger with awesome batting attributes but is also a freak athlete with awesome speed on the base paths. His fielding percentage was equally as impressive, recording a .993 success rate and 16 passed balls over 585 innings. He will be looking to reduce his past-ball number and only posted a 13% caught stealing percentage, allowing 98 stolen bases. This could be due to poor pitching and transition to his hand, but as he makes his way through the system, that number will likely increase.
At this point in time, Wells is likely two years away from making his debut at the top level, so the Yankees will likely stick with Sanchez for one more season, potentially extending him for another year or finding a stopgap until Wells is ready. They clearly have a few young prospects in mind, with Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe making their way through the system as well. They featured on the same team as the young catcher this past season, so they could all make the jump at a similar time. This would provide the Yankees with an incredibly young team and awesome talent to work with.