Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is coming off a disappointing season in which he endured plenty of criticism for both his underwhelming offensive performance and his subpar pitch blocking behind the plate. Nevertheless, New York will again rely on Sanchez as its starting backstop in 2019, general manager Brian Cashman recently told ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay (hat tip to Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues). “We know what he’s capable of doing,” Cashman said. “And I’m already getting phone calls to be honest from clubs trying to knock on our door to see if he’s available. And he’s not … He will be our catcher.” Sanchez was the game’s best hitting catcher from 2016-17, a 754-plate appearance span in which he batted .284/.354/.568 with 53 home runs, but dropped to .186/.291/.406 with 18 HRs in 374 PA in 2018. A .197 batting average of balls in play (down from .308 the previous two seasons) played a part in that, though, and Statcast suggests Sanchez deserved much better offensive numbers than his bottom-line results. Perhaps thanks in part to that data, not to mention his past production, it appears the Yankees are counting on a return to form in 2019 from the soon-to-be 26-year-old. Sanchez is slated to play his final pre-arb season next year, meaning he’ll earn a bargain salary. That only adds to Sanchez’s appeal for the Yankees and the teams that have inquired about him.
More from the American League…
- There’s almost no chance the Indians will re-sign pending free-agent outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com writes. The 30-year-old’s coming off his second straight injury-plagued season (he played just 82 games in 2017 and only 29 in ’18), and the Indians seem to have a cheaper in-house replacement in Tyler Naquin, Bastian observes. Chisenhall, to his credit, was a strong offensive contributor during his limited playing time over the past couple years. He has also been a member of the Cleveland organization since it drafted him 29th overall in 2008, so a parting of ways would mean the end of a long union between the two sides.
- The Orioles came in second in the race for Cuban pitching prospect Sandy Gaston, whom the Rays reeled in earlier this week, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Meanwhile, the Mesa brothers – two other Orioles targets who joined the Marlins last weekend – were essentially a package deal, despite earlier reports to the contrary, per Kubatko. Although Baltimore had the most international pool space available, it lost out on all three prospects, leading to questions as to what went wrong for the beleaguered franchise.