The Yankees have largely stuck by catcher Gary Sanchez during what has been an up-and-down career, but it’s possible that could change before next season. Asked Wednesday about Sanchez’s status, general manager Brian Cashman was not willing to commit to him as the team’s No. 1 catcher going forward. Cashman said (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com) that it’s “certainly a fair question” whether Sanchez will remain the Yankees’ main backstop. The Yankees plan to evaluate the position during the offseason.
Sanchez began his career with a flourish in 2016, smacking 20 home runs and slashing .299/.376/.557 in 229 plate appearances, but his offense and defense have been inconsistent since then. Sanchez was a big-hitting catcher as recently as 2019, but the 27-year-old slumped to a .147/.253/.365 line with 10 homers over 178 PA during this past regular season. He also led the AL in passed balls and finished in the majors’ 37th percentile in framing (per Statcast), though he did throw out a respectable 27 percent of would-be base stealers.
While the Yankees may be souring on Sanchez, whom they sat in the playoffs on multiple occasions, alternatives aren’t easy to find. J.T. Realmuto would represent an upgrade and a major splash on the open market, but the only starting-caliber catcher available after him in free agency will be James McCann. The Yankees do have Kyle Higashioka, ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher, on their roster, but he hasn’t shown he’s capable of an everyday role. So, barring a $100MM-plus Realmuto signing, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Yankees keep Sanchez on their roster for 2021 in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He earned a prorated $5MM this season.