The New York Yankees need to make a decision regarding Gary Sanchez and his future with the franchise before it’s too late.
The MLB Offseason is a time for decision making, and tough decision making, at that. Who do you sign? Who do you not sign? Who do you trade for? The questions are endless. The New York Yankees have quite a few calls to make, some harder than others, as we approach the MLB Winter Meetings, beginning Monday, December 7. Among those questions lies catcher Gary Sanchez, who was benched late last year for Kyle Higashioka. Now, the Yankees have to decide if they’ll give the 28-year-old catcher another chance, or if it’s time to move on.
The Case for Moving On
Gary Sanchez’s Yankees’ tenure has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Based on recency, his 2020 season was, well, brutal. Sanchez hit .147 with a .253 on-base percentage. he had a wRC+ of 69 and a wOBA of .271. Looking at these numbers, it’s understandable as to why Sanchez got benched late in the season, despite his success in 2016, 2017, and 2019. What make’s the argument for moving on from Gary Sanchez even more intriguing is who’s currently on the free-agent market at the catcher position.
J.T. Realmuto is one of the best, if not the best, catchers in baseball. Realmuto had a 1.7 fWAR in 2020 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He had a .349 on-base percentage with a wRC+ of 125. He also had a wOBA of .361. Considering these very strong numbers, Realmuto is probably going to land somewhere in the range of five years, $100 million. If the Yankees truly want to dump Sanchez, the optimal guy to replace him would have to be Realmuto.
The Case Against Moving On
It’s easy to forget this, but Gary Sanchez was one of the best catchers in the sport in 2017 and had a very strong campaign in 2019, too. Sanchez had a 2.3 fWAR with a 116 wRC+ and a 116 wRC+ in 2019. These numbers are very solid, and, considering Sanchez is a catcher these numbers put him in the upper tier of offensive production for that position. It’s rare to see a catcher that can hit 30 homers a year with plus offense and a strong arm, assuming Sanchez is performing how he is expected to.
What Should (Will) The Yankees Do?
Personally, I don’t see the Yankees dealing Sanchez after an off-year. I think the Yankees know their catcher is better than what he showed this season, and if the Bombers were planning on dealing him, they’d wait until Sanchez began producing to maximize his value.
One thing is for certain, however. If the Yankees were to deal Gary Sanchez, another move would almost certainly follow. I don’t see a scenario where Kyle Higashioka is the starting catcher come 2021.