At some point, the New York Yankees are going to have to make a decision on catcher Gary Sanchez, who has regressed over the past few seasons. This past year, Sanchez finished with a .204 batting average, including 23 homers and 54 RBIs. While his slugging percentage finished at .423, his best since 2019, he still failed to propel himself to long-term solution status.
General manager Brian Cashman would love for him to be the future catcher, but at this point, he has to consider alternative options with just one year of arbitration left on his contract. The team isnâ€™t confident they can rely on Kyle Higashioka, and Sanchez saw his defensive metrics struggle in some areas. In 2021, the 28-year-old played in 879 innings, recording a 17% caught stealing rate, the lowest of his career by more than 10%. While he was far better at stopping passed balls, allowing just 8 to get by him, he hasn’t become a balanced player that can hit and defend consistently.
With that being said, there is a chance the Yankees non-tender him, trading for an option like Piratesâ€™ Jacob Stallings.
The Athleticâ€™s Ken Rosenthal believes that the Yankees could non-tender Gary Sanchez, trading for a replacement:
The Athleticsâ€™Â Sean MurphyÂ and Piratesâ€™Â Jacob StallingsÂ are among the catchers available in trade, and the Cubsâ€™Â Willson ContrerasÂ might be, too, if he does not agree to a contract extension. Among the remaining free agents,Â Yan Gomes, 34, and Roberto PÃ©rez, who turns 33 on Dec. 23, are perhaps the leading options. The shortage of quality catching might prompt the Yankees to again offer a contract toÂ Gary SÃ¡nchez, who is projected to earn $7.9 million in arbitration. A trade for say, Stallings, could lead to a non-tender of SÃ¡nchez, who then would be a strong candidate to join the exodus of former Yankees to theÂ Marlins.
Stallings is an interesting option at 32-years-old. This past season, he recorded a .246 average with eight homers and 53 RBIs. He serves more as a contact hitter, but heâ€™s also a stellar defender, recording a .995 fielding percentage with zero passed balls in 892 innings. Earning his first Gold Glove, he would offer a significant upgrade behind the plate compared to Sanchez but doesnâ€™t have the power to supplement his home run totals.
The Yankees should shift their focus to Robbie Ray:
With Max Scherzer signing a $130 million, three-year deal, the Yankees may shift their attention to lefty ace Robbie Ray. After winning the Cy Young award this past season, Ray is looking for a long-term contract with a new team. He posted a career-best 2.84 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays this past year, earning an 11.54 strikeout per nine rate. He also logged a career-best 90.1% left on-base percentage and 37.2% ground ball rate.
Overall, Ray represents arguably the best starting pitcher on the market currently, but natural regression is a concern. Looking at his statistics, his fastball hovered around 95 mph, the highest itâ€™s ever been. He stopped using his curveball as frequently and relied heavily on his fastball and slider, which did him well.
Considering the Yankees just presented $25 million for Justin Verlander, there is a chance they enter the fold for Ray, who will likely land at a slightly lower price point.