Yankees: Gary Sanchez news you may or may not want to hear

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez
Oct 17, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning of game four of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Gary Sanchez we witnessed in 2020 is one the New York Yankees would like to leave behind. Ever since leaving his mark on the 2017 season with a .278 average and 33 homers, the Yankees have been chasing Sanchez’s ghost. While their faith remains constant, he consistently disappoints with below-average defense and increasingly liable offense.

To finish the 2020 campaign, Sanchez earned a .147 average with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. If there’s any saving grace over the last few seasons, it’s that he’s hit double-digit home runs each year. The Yankees love his slugging ability, but his strikeout rate continues to balloon, as he landed at 36% last year.

Manager Aaron Boone spoke with the media during his opening press conference on Wednesday afternoon, and he expressed his confidence in Sanchez, who seems to be in a better place at this point in time.

“We had some really good conversations and put some really good things in place that will hopefully allow him to grow,’’ Boone said. “We demonstrated with our actions we believe in him. He can be a game-changer at the plate when he’s right. Hopefully, this is the year he puts it all together. We have a lot of confidence in that, but we’ve got to get it out of him, too.”

Surprisingly, the Yankees actually offered Sanchez a raise in 2021, seeing his contract to $6.35 million over one year. This seems to be their final throw of the dart, and if Sanchez can’t elevate his game, they will have to make a difficult decision to move on in 2022. At 28 years old, there is reason to believe he can pick up where he left off in 2017, as consistent injuries and a lack of confidence have influenced him significantly.

To finish last year, Kyle Higashioka actually played more postseason games and even became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Boone was reluctant to name the starting catcher for the 2021 season, but it seems as if Sanchez will have a fresh shot at claiming the rights. However, it is fair to believe he is on a short leash, and there will be a good position battle moving forward.

“I don’t have a plan of pairing [Cole and Higashioka],’’ Boone said during his Zoom call with reporters from Tampa. “We’ll come in with the idea of Gary or Kyle will both work with all pitchers this spring in bullpens and into spring games.”