New York Yankees: Previous Yankee target Yadier Molina may hang up his cleats

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees entered the offseason with many decisions to make to improve the team. Two of those decisions were made relatively quickly. The Yankees made it a priority to re-sign the second baseman and hitting champ DJ LeMahieu (so far unsuccessfully). They also had to decide what to do with their slumping catcher Gary Sanchez. When it came time to tender him a contract, they did. He will earn nearly $6 million this year. However, he will be the Yankees starting catcher, although backup catcher Kyle Higashioka will also see his share of games. Halfway through the 2020 season, he became ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher.

After Gary’s miserable season, for Yankee fans, there was much speculation that the team might move on from Sanchez, after hoping his defense would improve over the last few years. With a .147 batting average, he wasn’t adding any offense in the lineup. Surely the Yankees considered R.T Realmuto, James McCann, and Yadier Molina, although Molina was probably the only option. Realmuto was demanding a six-figure contract, and McCann went with the New York Mets. Molina had ties to the Yankees as his brother Jose played at the Stadium from 2007 to 2009 and took home a World Series ring.

The Molina brothers Jose, Benjie, and Yadier were the greatest catching family in baseball over the years. All became stars with their respective teams. Yadier has spent his entire 17-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals being an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove catcher many of those years.

After the 2020 season, Molina’s contract was up, and the Cards chose not to take up his $12 million option for 2021 in a cost-cutting move. So far, he is holding out for a $10 million one-year deal but were prefer a two-year deal. His main suiters were the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees. Had the Yankees held off on the Sanchez contract, they probably could have gotten the 101 postseason game veteran on a two year $15 million-plus contract. Compared to Sanchez’s $6 million, that would have been a tremendous upgrade at the backstop. But the Yankees chose to continue to have faith in Sanchez.

Now, after seventeen years and no contract being offered, one of the best catchers in all of baseball is considering retirement. Now, if he can’t get a two-year contract with preferable the Cards, he will hang up his cleats. He recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is getting ready to walk away. In an interview with Cardinals broadcaster Polo Ascensio set to run Thursday at noon today, he said:

“If God wants me to come back, then I’ll come back. And if not I will retire happy with my head held high.”

Yadier is the last of the Molina brothers still pitching. Brother Benjie retired as a Ranger in 2010, and brother Jose retired as a Tampa Bay Ray after 2014. Yadier was the best hitter of the three, with a .281 batting average. If Yadier does, in fact, hang up the cleats, it will the end of an era when the brothers dominated the catching scene.

 

 

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Is James McCann the fix the Yankees need at backstop?

New York Yankees, Yankees, James McCann

The New York Yankees have much to do this offseason to correct areas they believe may have cost them another early exit from the postseason. Among them is re-signing DJ LeMahieu and rebuilding a pitching rotation that can bring them a division win and lead them to their first trip to the World Series in 12 years. Among other items, the Yankees have to decide what to do with their backstop, Gary Sanchez.

Gary Sanchez burst onto the Yankee scene in 2016, hitting more than a hit per game and hitting his career-high .299 batting average. In 2017 he had the most home runs of any catcher in baseball. Things were looking good for the young catcher as the Yankees declared him the New York Yankee catcher of the future, even though poor defense dogged him. Since his first two years as a Yankees, it’s been pretty much downhill for him. He hit a lot of home runs in 2019, but his batting average has averaged under .200 for the last three years. This year his defense has not improved, and he hit a career-low .147 batting average.

The Yankee have mostly lost faith in Sanchez after sitting him late in the season and the postseason. A team can’t have a guy in the lineup that can’t hit and is a liability. The New York Yankees must now decide if they keep Sanchez, promote Kyle Higashioka to starting catcher, or acquire a new catcher for the team through the free-agent market. There are three outstanding catchers out there that would be a significant upgrade from Sanchez. The most prized and most expensive is J.T. Realmuto. Another is Yadier Molina, a future Hall of Famer, and James McCann, a free agent from the Chicago White Sox.

Today we look to see if James McCann is a good fit for the Yankees. McCann is a solid defender, and the 30-year-old batted .289 to Sanchez’s .147 this past season. He has a good injury history, and Sanchez does not. He doesn’t hit as many home runs as Sanchez, he had only 7 compared to Gary’s 10, but McCann hits for contact. He has a .360 OBP and .896 OPS compared to Sanchez’s line of .253/.618. However, not a perfect defender had 4 errors to Sanchez’s 6.

McCann is coming off two solid seasons with the White Sox; he was an All-Star in 2019 when he hit 18 home runs and drove in 60 runners. Being a hot commodity on the free-agent market, if the Yankees decide McCann is for them, they will have plenty of competition for his services as according to John Heyman of the MLB Network, besides the New York Yankees, the crosstown Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels all reportedly interested. Of course, the White Sox would like to keep him too, but not enough to give him a qualifying offer. The only reason the Cards are interested is that they might lose Yadier Molina.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: There are wildly conflicting views on Sanchez, find out here if he deserves one last chance

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is certainly in the center of the Yankee conversation to improve the team this offseason. If you thought Sanchez was controversial during the last two seasons, he is even more so in the last weeks following the World Series. Those thoughts from fans to sportswriters have varied from the Yankees have supported their defenseless catcher for far too long and should cut him loose, to the claim they have turned him into a broken baseball player.

Sanchez’s problem is that he is a highly talented player that just doesn’t seem to be able to put it all together to become that Yankee star that the front office always thought he could be. In this writer’s opinion, the New York Yankees have been more than patient with the struggling catcher, and it is indeed time to move on from him. But some disagree. They say he’s still young; give him a chance. I say after five years of hope with only diminishing results, that is enough of a chance. If you keep doing the same thing, don’t expect different results. More on that later.

After a breakout season in 2016 and 2017 in which he was second in the Rookie of the year vote, was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and got MVP votes, he has never regained that excellence. In 2017 he even had the most home runs of any catcher in either league. But in 2018 and 2019, he was off the field with injuries so much that his value to the team dropped significantly. His supporter often saw his lack of playing ability was due to those injuries.

During those years, his batting average dropped, and his strikeouts increased. He had times of increased defense, and times it got worse. At one point, he had the most passed balls in baseball. Fast forward to the 2020 shortened season, Sanchez managed to stay healthy the entire season, but that didn’t help his performance; it only got worse. He ended the season with a batting average at only .147 with ten home runs and an abysmal OBP of just .253. As the season progressed, he seemed totally lost at the plate, just flailing at pitched balls.  There is even news that he is being shopped.

In the last month of the season, the Yankees and Gerrit Cole found that the matchup of backup catcher Kyle Higashioka worked much better than with Sanchez. In the last weeks, Sanchez found himself sat while Higashioka caught for even more pitchers, and in the postseason, Sanchez was sat even more often even in favor of Erik Kratz.

The YES Network’s Michael Kay stated that “I think they broke him.” Kay’s rationale was that he should have jumped up and down and created a controversy when being sat in favor of his backup catcher. The fact that he just went quietly into the background shows that he was a broken player.

My take on that is that I have no way of knowing whether he is broken or not, but if he is depressed and “broken,” it’s because no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t hit the ball, not because the Yankees sat him in the hopes of winning a game.

Sanchez got off to a horrible start. In his five July games, he didn’t get a hit or a home run. He did get 10 strikeouts while not walking once. August was a bit better, but his batting average didn’t; he actually hit the lowest of all catchers in baseball at just .056. He did hit 6 home runs in August. In September, he just seemed to fall apart completely, lacking defense and home runs. Fans saw him as wasted space in the lineup for a team that was quickly losing their division. In the postseason ALDS, he caught two games without getting a hit while striking out three times, when the Yankees exited the postseason early again.

Some of my followers have criticized me for being too hard on Sanchez. I believe I may have been too easy on him and think the New York Yankees were as well. The truth be known, I actually like Sanchez and believe he has immense talent and is on the edge of greatness.

When nothing else has worked, I have a plan to give Sanchez one last chance. I believe he truly wants to get better. He is showing that by playing winter ball in the Dominican. Hire Yadier Molina on a one or two year contract and pay him well. Not so much as to be the lead Yankee catcher but to fix Gary Sanchez. In his long career, Molina has always been one of the premier catchers in all of baseball. He knows how to be the best defensively, and he knows how to hit the ball. If anyone can fix Sanchez, it’s Yadier Molina.

On the Yankees and manager Aaron Boone’s part, that move will allow catchers’ platooning between Molina, Sanchez, and Higashioka. This also removes the need to acquire another catcher due to the retirement of Erik Kratz. Although I think this is a plan that might work out well for the New York Yankees, at the same time, it is unfair to Kyle Higashioka, who deserves to be the starting catcher. My reasoning for presenting this plan is that Sanchez has the stuff to be a superstar, “Higgy” is a good catcher but doesn’t have that same potential.

Two more teams join the Yankees and Mets in the pursuit of Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

Yadier Molina is an accomplished catcher. He’s won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and is known for his leadership skills, his elite defense, and his ability to call a game. He is no longer an asset with the bat, but those traits would come in handy for both the New York Yankees and Mets.

Since Molina is a free agent, the Yankees and Mets recently came up in reports as being interested in his services. He remains a likely candidate to return to the Cards, where he has played his whole career, at some point, but that doesn’t mean other teams don’t want him.

In fact, two additional clubs are interested in Molina, according to what the All-Star catcher told Laura Bonnelly of Mas Que Pelota. Those teams are the San Diego Padres, and the Los Angeles Angels.

Molina spoke with Bonnelly on Thursday. The nine-time Gold Glove award winner is looking for a two-year deal in this free agency period. It could be his last contract, as he is approaching the end of his fantastic playing career.

Molina said he’s looking to sign with a contending club and that he’s not focused on the money aspect, but rather winning a third ring before he calls it a career. The Yankees fit the bill, but of course, he reiterated that his preference would be to return to the Cardinals, as he has played in St. Louis for 17 years.

What will the Yankees do at catcher?

The Yankees have Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka under contract for the 2021 season, but the former struggled so much (.147 batting average, 36% strikeout rate, 69 wRC+) that he was benched in the playoffs to play Higgy, a career 55 wRC+ hitter.

The Mets, meanwhile, decided not to offer Wilson Ramos a chance to exercise the club option he had, and now they don’t have a starting catcher. They are reportedly after J.T. Realmuto, but he would be much more expensive than Molina.

It remains to be seen whether the New York Yankees make a strong push for Molina. His preference appears to be returning to St. Louis, but only time will tell.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yadier Molina, Domingo German, and will there be a Universal DH ahead? (video)

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

Yankees look to solve catcher problem

In a season that the New York Yankees have so many decisions to make to improve the team, the question of who will become the 2021 starting catcher is becoming less clear. Shortly after the World Series, the Yankees let it be known that they would entertain offers for catcher Gary Sanchez. It looked like Sanchez might be non-tendered, and on his way out of would be relinquishing his starting position to Kyle Higashioka or a catcher yet to be determined.

But, now on Monday on the Yes Network, manager Aaron Boone sang his praises for Sanchez and suggested that criticism of him might be unwarranted.

“I think he’s been unfairly criticized a lot,” Boone told the YES Network. “I think at times it’s over the top and people are blinded by some of the things that he’s done really well. This year was certainly a challenging year for him and a struggle for him in a lot of ways, but that’s okay.”

This statement by Boone only further clouds the situation with Sanchez. Sanchez is coming off the worse season of his career, hitting only .147 and still exhibiting his defensive ills. Near the end of the season, the New York Yankees seemed to give up on Sanchez’s continued support, replacing him at times with Higashioka even in the postseason.

Often mentioned as a short-term resolution to the Yankees catcher problem is to secure Yadier Molina, the veteran pitcher from the Cardinals, who is now a free agent for the first time in his career. To me, acquiring a veteran like Molina makes sense, even on a one or two-year deal. The surprising benefit if the Yankees keep Sanchez around, Molina might be the answer to solving Sanchez’s defensive ills.

What does Domingo German’s future look like?

The Athletic reported Hal Steinbrenner was pretty non-committal when he spoke about Germán on ESPN Radio in October, which I found pretty interesting. There’s a lot to be considered here, starting with what level of remorse and growth Germán demonstrates to the organization following his suspension under the league domestic violence policy.

He basically said that German would have to prove to him that he was a changed man. Complicating that was his erratic behavior on Twitter and a car accident involving his wife. German has not been in touch with his teammates since his suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence protocol. He has not pitched now in a major league game in 19 months.

However, all that being said, he is playing winter ball, preparing for his possible return. He was reinstated onto the 40 man New York Yankee roster. Whether he comes back or doesn’t come back, it probably won’t be a surprise to Yankees fans, some of which want him back and some don’t. Regardless of how you feel, it must be kept in mind that he was the Yankee’s best pitcher in the 2019 season, and as the video below shows, he doesn’t seem to have lost a beat in his winter games in the Dominican.

Will the Universal DH become normal going forward?

With all the unanswered questions about the upcoming 2021 season, it may cause the teams in this uncertain environment to act this offseason slowly. After the December 2nd deadline to tendering players, there may be a much-expanded list of free-agent players.

Another question that may be holding some teams back is whether there will be a continuation of the Universal DH. It seems most players in the player’s union are favorable to the idea. However, with the collective bargaining agreement now open to updating, it would not be surprising if MLBPA union President Tony Clark will want something in return for that decision. We may see expanded postseason play much like we did this year.

One thing is for sure, and that is there will be much going on with the Players Union, the teams, and the players, all looking to find their way into another baseball season.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yankee Catcher Gary Sanchez’s future is more cloudy, find out why

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees and its fans have really soured on catcher Gary Sanchez even his most ardent supporters. He got so bad last season that he was actually sat down at times toward the end of the season and in most of the postseason, in favor of backup catch Kyle Higashioka. When your backup catcher is trusted more than your starting catcher, that isn’t good.

Now that we are in the offseason, the Yankees are looking for ways to improve the team and are doing it in a financial environment where two things are in play. With a season with no fans in the stands, the Yankees suffered the biggest losses in baseball from the loss of revenue. The other is that is no clear path to a 2021 season that says fans will be allowed in the fans again, with the coronavirus now ravaging the entire county at its greatest height ever.

Those considerations will cause the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams to be penny pinchers for the most part. Some teams will spend, but most will stay close to the vest. Yankee’s general managing partner Hal Steinbrenner has already announced that he wants to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

The Yankees have three primary areas they must address before the start of the new baseball season. The most important is putting together a starting rotation to support the new Yankee pitching ace, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees spent a huge amount on Cole, and they aren’t going to waste that money by not supporting him with a rotation that can win games. They will also look to bolster an already good bullpen that has suffered the loss of Tommy Kahnle.

The other two problems are not as concerning but should be addressed. Gleyber Torres did not perform as expected at shortstop, not playing well or hitting well. I will leave that for another article. What I will address is the complete collapse of Gary Sanchez as the Yankees’ everyday catcher. Even though the Yankees, for the most part, had continued to support Sanchez, he has been in continual decline since 2016 when he came in second in the Rookie of the year voting and 2017 when he was a Silver Slugger and All-Star.

That decline made headlines this year when his defense again failed, and he could only hit .147. Immediately after the season ended, rumors started that Sanchez may be done as a Yankee. Due to arbitration, Sanchez was to make $7 million this year, and many thought he was not worth that. I have to admit that I am not a Sanchez supporter and haven’t been since 2018. But maybe now that the dust has settled on the previous season, it is time to look deeper into the whole catcher situation.

Is J. T. Realmuto or Yadier Molina the answer for the Yankees?

Should the New York Yankees spend for a Realmuto, sign one of the most reliable catchers in the game in Yadier Molina, or should they think about James McCann? Looking at Realmuto, he will be very expensive. He will demand a paycheck that will be more than the Yankees pay for their whole catching staff now. Looking at it carefully, he isn’t that much of an upgrade from Sanchez, considering the money involved.

When you look at Realmuto and Sanchez side by side, there really isn’t that much of a difference on the offensive side of the ball.

  • Realmuto career: .278/.328/.455 with 380 runs scored, 95 home runs, and 358 RBI
  • Sanchez career: .236/.320/.502 with 245 runs scored, 115 home runs, 286 RBI, one less season than Realmuto.
  • OPB/OPS: Sanchez .320/.823, Realmuto .327/.783

Looking at those stats carefully, they don’t support spending all that money on a player whose career stats are not that much better. Plus, the Yankees have better things to spend their money on than blowing the budget on a minor upgrade. What isn’t mentioned in these stats is that Sanchez has a rocket of an arm that few players are up to challenging.

Yadier Molina may be a different story. One is that he will not command the salary or length of contract that Realmuto will. Yadier Molina is in the twilight of his career being one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. He has a better batting average but does not have the power of Sanchez. He is familiar with the Yankees even though he had played his entire career with the Cardinals. His brother Jose caught for the Yankees platooning with Joe Girardi. James McCann is a good defender, has a better batting average than everyone mentioned .289, and can hit home runs. But the bottom line here is that none of these catchers would be a huge upgrade to Sanchez.

With the talk now being that the Yankees may tender Sanchez, maybe the best path is to tackle the pitching deficiencies and leave the catcher situation just as it is.  Maybe consider Sanchez’s 2020 performance more as a blip in his career rather than things to come. Sanchez hit the most home runs of any catcher last year. Another positive point is that Sanchez stayed healthy last year. Sánchez is participating in the Dominican Winter League as he aims to move past an all-around frustrating year.

To a lesser degree, the Yankees must get another backup catcher with the retirement of Erik Kratz.  The Yankees Josh Thole, who hasn’t caught in the majors since 2016, is probably not the answer as he was rejected last season in favor of the 40-year-old Kratz.

Maybe manager Aaron Boone needs to forget his disdain for personal catchers. After all, it worked out brilliantly for Gerrit Cole and “Higgy.” Start the new season by catching a platooning situation much like what manager Buck Showalter and Casey Stengel did in their managerial careers. This plan could allow Sanchez to shine again and get over a horrible season. Let Higashioka catch Cole and Garcia and Sanchez the rest as it seems appropriate. It just might work.

As I mentioned before I am not a Gary Sanchez fan, but the platooning situation may be the way to go with so many unknowns for the upcoming 2021 season, and the other more important pitching needs that the New York Yankees will have to solve. Who knows as bad as his 2020 season was, he has the talent to return to his 2017 All-Star season and his league-leading home runs for a catcher in 2019.

 

 

New York Yankees Analysis: Delving into what’s knocked Gary Sanchez off track

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

For the New York Yankees, the once up and coming star Gary Sanchez‘s baseball career has become in shambles. But what is wrong, and can it be fixed? In 2017 Sanchez became a Yankee star hitting 33 home runs and batting .278. This was after coming in second in the Rookie of the year award. In 2017 is a home run hitting leader; he also an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and came in 22nd in the MVP Voting. Although his defense was not great, he was known for having an arm not to be challenged. Sanchez’s problem is that it has been mostly downhill since then, culminating in his worst season ever in 2020, hitting only .147.

The Yankees proclaimed Sanchez their catcher of the future and stuck to that support until the 2020 season neared its end. Then Sanchez mostly lost his starting catcher position, including in the postseason. The cracks in the “Krackens” armor finally turned the Yankees against him. He was often benched in favor of backup catcher Kyle HIgashioka, who defended better and hit better than Sanchez. He was also designated as Yankee ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. It got so bad that in the offseason, the Yankees are even shopping their former star.

This will be an important time for Gary and the Yankees. He ended last season with a slash line of .147/.253/.365. For the last several years, the Yankees had stood by him when he played well and when he was horrible, but that all changed to the point he is no longer the Yankees’ starting catcher.

Sanchez surely wants to stay with the Yankees. In an effort to do that, he is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. How he can perform there may very well dictate the Yankee’s path forward with him or will seal his fate, and the New York Yankees will move on from Sanchez forever.

There are several problems the Yankees need to fix with Sanchez; one is his lack of quality defense. He has an arm like a rocket that few baseball players would challenge, but that where it ends. He has too many passed balls, and his pitch framing doesn’t seem like it used to be. His inconsistent hitting is another big problem. There is no question for a New York Yankee catcher that he can hit home runs, some monster ones, but like with his defense, that’s where it ends; he strikes out and fails to get on base for his team.

In today’s game, pitchers are throwing more fastballs than ever, and that is where Sanchez’s framing is the worst. Out of 62 catchers, he is the 58th worst when it comes to framing high fastballs. Another problem is ball blocking. Since 2019 only two catchers had more passed balls than Sanchez, and only three catchers were rated worse by Defensive Runs Saved. These stats make his home runs less important to the Yankees.

Sanchez swings and misses far too much often at balls out of the zone. But a more horrifying stat the that he swings and misses more on the pitches he sees most frequently. Sanchez has never been a speed demon on the bases, but he has slowed even more in the most recent years. This also works against Sanchez as the third baseman has more time to field and can take a few more steps backward, which results in a loss of hits for Sanchez.

With Sanchez’s record of going backward and so many issues, age only will make his shortcomings more obvious, which doesn’t spell well for Sanchez remaining a Yankee. With the Yankees taking so long to recognize his downside’s importance, he is now not worth much to the Yankees or any other team. With the Yankees likely not to spend for a J. T. Realmuto next season, we may see Kyle Higashioka as the Yankees starting catcher.

They have other options, such as acquiring one of the best catchers in baseball, Yadier Molina. That acquisition will give the Yankees much better defense but only some improvement in hitting. However, even at his age, Molina’s energy is a definite plus with a team that sometimes seems to lack purpose. With the retirement of Erick Kratz, the Yankees will also need another backup catcher.

 

 

New York Yankees: Cardinals’ Hall of Fame writer doesn’t see Yadier Molina in the Bronx

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

Rick Hummel, a highly respected writer who has covered the St. Louis Cardinals for the last 40 years, is inclined to think that the red birds will retain both Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. Both players are free agents, but the former has been connected with the New York Yankees lately. The Bombers could entertain the idea of replacing the struggling Gary Sanchez.

After all, Sanchez hit a career-low .147 during the regular season and the New York Yankees sent him to the bench in the postseason to start Kyle Higashioka. The Kraken hit 10 homers but had lots of problems making consistent contact, and his work behind the plate, while improved, was still inferior to that of Higgy.

Hummel, who works for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the Cardinals, participated in an online chat this week, where he said that the Yankees are unlikely to sign Molina.

Hummel, for reference, was the writer who mistakenly gave an MVP vote to reliever Ryan Tepera.

The Yankees are extremely unlikely to end up with “Cardinal for life” Molina

Here is his take on Molina and why he doesn’t think the Yankees will end up with the future Hall of Fame catcher, published by NJ Advance Media:

“For next year, assuming some fans are allowed back in the park, the Cardinals would do well to give the fans what they want–Molina and Wainwright–and then to try to fix up as much of the rest of the club as they can. … This is a situation where you have go with your heart, as much as feasible. It isn’t as if you’re locked into five more years of either player. Let the fans, hopefully, see them play at least somewhere close to an elite level for another year anyway. This would not be a charity sign really. Wainwright was the Cardinals’ best starter in 2020 and Molina was respectable while playing hurt and after battling the virus.

“My take is that Wainwright was their best starting pitcher for much of last season and that Molina makes the entire staff better than it is because of his knowledge and leadership. Don’t those two items help your team? … There is no one ready to “step in” for Molina. … Generally, you want your best pitcher back, and Wainwright was the Cardinals’ best starter in 2020. These days, you’re trying to reconnect with your fan base and, if you can bring back popular players who still can help, you do it.”

It is unclear if the Yankees will seek to upgrade the catcher position or if they will focus on pitching, instead.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: The Yankees are shopping Gary Sanchez, what about Molina?

Yadier Molina, New York Yankees

Reports indicate that the New York Yankees are accepting offers for the services of Gary Sanchez, and at the same time, are checking out the field for a replacement. How this all turns out and when is anyone’s guess. How much value there is in Sanchez is questionable; although he might be an upgrade for some clubs, he has failed to compete as a Yankee for a few years now, this being his worst year so far, hitting just .147 and underperforming as a catcher. Late in the season and in the postseason, he was sat down frequently in favor of backup catcher Kyle Higashioka.

The two pitchers frequently mentioned to replace Sanchez is J. T. Realmuto and Yadier Molina. Neither of which would come cheap. With the losses of the New York Yankees, the most in baseball, Realmuto is most likely out of the picture pricewise. There would still be a steep price to pay for Molina, but no near as much as a Realmuto deal.

Like Yadier, Molina brothers have been some of the best catchers in baseball for the last two decades. Yadier has spent his entire 17-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards failed to offer Molina a multi-year deal and was not offered a qualifying offer.

It is the first time in his career that he has been a free-agent and will be looking for a two or three year deal that will take him until he is 40 or 41 years old. While he’s not nearly the offensive player he once was, Molina did still post 1 defensive run saved in 2020. One of the greatest defensive catchers in MLB history, Molina, can still provide value behind as backstop, even if that’s also diminished from what he did at the height of his powers. The Yankees get with Yadier is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, a guy who can hit and get on base, even though he hits few home runs then he did in his prime.

“I previously said that if it wasn’t with St. Louis, that I would go home. If we were unable to come to an extension agreement, that I would retire. But the situation with this pandemic has changed everything. Right now, I’m thinking of playing two more years,” Molina said to ESPN’s Marly Rivera.

“Obviously, St. Louis is my first option. But if they don’t sign me, then I’m willing to go into free agency. This situation has changed my mentality, and all I want to do is play.”

The New York Yankees are not unfamiliar with Molina; his older brother Jose caught for the Yankees in 2007. After Jorge Posada suffered a shoulder injury the Yankees traded for Molina on a two-year deal. He caught for the Yankees as the starting catcher until Ivan Rodriguez replaced him. He then served as a backup catcher.

Molina last year hit .267 with four home runs. Sanchez hit 10 home runs but was seldom on base with a .147 batting average. Molina would be an upgrade for the Yankees, defensively and offensively; how much of an upgrade is a question. Molina is night and day from Sanchez. He is vibrant and energetic even at his age, something that is often missing from Sanchez, who continually strikes out and doesn’t give it his all.

Whether the New York Yankees go after Molina, a lot depends on what they have to do to keep DJ LeMahieu in the fold. The two scenarios that enable it are that the team re-signs the second baseman for a relatively inexpensive raise — or they lose the bidding war and  LeMahieu signs with a different team, opening up the payroll for other minor improvements. In the last scenario, the Yankees could sign Molina and still have money left over to seek a premium pitcher.

The Yankees have other options

Should the New York Yankees not sign Yadier Molina or choose not to spend for a J.T. Realmuto there is another very acceptable option out there. That being James McCann. McCann is a seven-year veteran catcher that has been with the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. McCann last year hit .289 with seven home runs. He is at 30, also a younger candidate than Molina, although not as good defensively. Still, Molina is a future Hall of Famer that still hits .296 when balls are in play.

Although both of these catchers will be expensive for the Yankees, they are likely to command about the same amount of money.  McCann made $10 million last year and Molina $20 million. Molina realizes he won’t get that this year and both will probably settle in somewhere in the $12-14 million range. That may seem expensive to replace Sanchez, who will probably make $6-7 million this coming season.  Realmuto, on the other hand will require an investment of possibly $20 million.

It’s a long offseason, and it will be filled with twists and turns as the Yankees try to improve their to get to another World Championship.

 

Are Gary Sanchez’s days with the New York Yankees numbered?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

I don’t think there’s a player that has frustrated the New York Yankees or their fanbase more than Gary Sanchez. Sanchez was supposed to be a star catcher for the bombers, and he’s shown that potential at times.

He has incredible power in his bat and he’s got a great arm behind the plate. However, despite the potential, he’s really failed to live up to expectations. Last season was so bad that he was benched in the playoffs.

Sanchez still shows power in his bat, but he’s hit under 200 combined over the past couple of seasons. Combining that with his extremely high strikeout rate and his horrific defense and you don’t have a very popular figure in New York.

The Yankees have apparently been contemplating moving on from Sanchez. They made Sanchez available in trade talks at the deadline and it appears that they are likely to make him available in the offseason as well.

We are already seeing signs of this. It was reported today that the Yankees have reached out to future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina. If the Yankees were to sign Molina, they wouldn’t be bringing him in as a backup.

Considering the Yankees have a permanent DH in Giancarlo Stanton, a Molina signing would signal the end for Sanchez. The New York Post also reported today that the bombers are open to trading their once prized catcher.

What should the Yankees do?

This is the question that many fans seem to be divided on. You have one group of fans that want the Yankees to give Sanchez another shot. I will say that when he’s firing on all cylinders, he can be one of the best catchers in the game.

Then you have another group of fans who would like to strap him to a rocket and send him to the moon. There’s really not a middle ground when it comes to the New York Yankees fanbase.

That being said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think the Yankees try to move him. If they can package Sanchez in the right deal, I think there’s a high probability that they move on from Sanchez.

The team is moving further and further down the road of analytics. Frankly, there’s no analytics that point to Gary Sanchez being a great all-around catcher. Yankees pitching had a significantly higher ERA this year with him behind the plate versus Kyle Higashioka.

Combine that with all of his terrible personal metrics, and it doesn’t look like a fit for a team trying to win the World Series. Maybe the Yankees hold onto Sanchez and he turns back into the guy we saw in 2017. That’s a real possibility.

However, the sample size of poor performance is starting to outweigh the good performances. And in a place like New York, it’s always been about, “What have you done for me lately?” The answer from Gary Sanchez is truly not much.