There is no doubt that Gary Sanchez is one of the best catchers in the league, but should the Yankees think about extending him?
The Yankees, as we all know, are loaded with young talent that is either in their prime or has yet to hit their peak. Just look across the diamond and you’ll see a 23-year-old budding shortstop who hit 38 home runs a year ago in Gleyber Torres, a perennial MVP candidate in rightfield in Aaron Judge, an ace caliber pitcher when healthy in Luis Severino, and a Rookie of the Year runner up at third in Miguel Andujar. Having said this, there’s one player that came around earlier than most of the Yankees on the current roster, with the exception of Severino: all-star catcher Gary Sanchez, who the Yankees may want to keep around for a very long time.
The Dawn of Sanchez
Believe it or not, Sanchez got a pair of at-bats late in the 2015 season and went 0-2. Most Yankee fans know Sanchez for the impact he provided down the stretch of the 2016 season when he helped keep the Bombers in a pennant race. In that brief 2016 run, Sanchez was phenomenal, hitting .299 with a .376 on-base percentage in 53 games.
The power numbers were absolutely outstanding, too, as the catcher blasted 20 home runs and drove in 42 on his way to an outstanding 170 wRC+ and a .425 wOBA. He would end up finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting that year, as Detroit Tigers’ starting pitcher Michael Fulmer took home the hardware.
The Years that Followed
Fast forward to 2017, and the offensive production off Sanchez’s bat was still incredible. He hit .278 with a .345 OBP, driving in 90 runs and hitting 33 homers. Albeit, these numbers weren’t nearly as other-worldly as his 2016 campaign, but I think everyone understood that those 2016 numbers simply weren’t maintainable unless Sanchez was set to be one of the greatest hitters that ever walked planet Earth.
It wasn’t all peaches and cream for Sanchez in 2017, though. The catcher had 16 passed balls that year and was even benched in early August due to his struggles behind the dish.
2018 was even worse, as not only Sanchez’s defense got worse, but his offensive numbers took a major hit, too. Due to injury, Sanchez only played 89 games and accumulated 18 passed balls. He hit a lowly .189 with an even worse .291 OBP. The power numbers were still solid, however, as Sanchez hit 18 home runs in just those 89 games.
Onto 2019, things were generally a mixed bag. His offensive production went back up, but not to the level it was two years prior, hitting .232 with a .316 OBP and a .841 OPS. What’s really impressive, however, was Sanchez’s run production numbers. He only played in 106 games but achieved a career-high in homers at 34. If he stayed injury-free, he may have been able to reach the 45 homer mark, which, in general, is astounding, let alone for a backstop. Another Positive? Sanchez only had seven passed balls — a career-low.
Should the Yankees Extend Him?
Sanchez is 27 right now and turns 28 in December, so he’s right about to hit his prime. He is set to hit the open market following the 2022 season, which means he will enter free agency about to turn 30. There’s no doubt Gary Sanchez is a top-four catcher in baseball even when he’s struggling, and the Yankees should know that, when he’s at his best, Sanchez is a force to be reckoned with, which may prompt the Bombers to push for an extension with Sanchez sooner rather than later