The Yankees plan to tender a contract to catcher Gary Sanchez prior to tonight’s 7pm CT non-tender deadline, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. As per the “37 percent” projection method used by MLBTR’s Matt Swart, Sanchez is projected to earn $5.5MM in his second trip through the arbitration process.
The idea of Sanchez as a non-tender candidate would have been unthinkable even a year ago, and yet it arose as a possibility in the wake of a disastrous 2020 season for the catcher. Sanchez hit only .147/.253/.365 over 178 plate appearances, continued to struggle defensively, and saw Kyle Higashioka mostly assume starting catcher duties down the stretch and into the Yankees’ postseason run.
Coming on the heels of a down year in 2018 and even a 2019 season that saw Sanchez post big power numbers but a .232 batting average and .316 OBP, there was some thought that the Yankees might just cut ties entirely with the former All-Star. With the Yankees rumored to be looking to duck under the luxury tax threshold, Sanchez’s salary would have been seen as expendable.
On the other hand, there was also sound reasoning in keeping Sanchez. $5.5MM isn’t a big cost for a player (especially a catcher) with Sanchez’s power potential, and he was certainly far from the only notable star who struggled within the small sample size of the 60-game 2020 campaign and all of the unusual circumstances surrounding the season. Getting rid of Sanchez would also mean that New York would’ve had to find a replacement behind the plate, which might have also been a costly endeavor unless the team signed a platoon-type to split time with Higashioka.
It still isn’t out the question that Sanchez could be traded before Opening Day, though finding a deal would be tricky. The Yankees surely wouldn’t want to move Sanchez when his value is at its lowest, though rival teams also obviously wouldn’t want to pay a premium given the catcher’s rough year.