Yankees state of the system: Catchers

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Gary Sanchez
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Gary Sanchez /
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Yankees /

Gary Sanchez has established himself as a top-three catcher in all of baseball. But aside from him, the Yankees are thinner behind the plate than they’ve been in recent years.

At the major league level, Gary Sanchez’s studliness is obvious. He lit the Bronx on fire by smacking 20 home runs in 53 games as a Yankees rookie in 2016.

Then, in his first full season, El Gary rode 33 dingers, 90 RBI and a batting line of .278/.345/.531 to a Silver Slugger Award and an All-Star appearance. He’s got one of the best-throwing arms you’ll ever see.

Plus, he showed some serious cojones when he unseated Giancarlo Stanton in last summer’s Home Run Derby.

The dude is 25 years old. He’s already the best catcher in the American League (sorry, Salvador Perez), both now and for the future. Aside from Buster Posey, he’s probably the best catcher in the world.

Sanchez’s biggest weakness last season was the passed ball. A league-leading 16 of them, to be exact. However: a) the Yankees staff is insanely difficult to catch, what with Tanaka and Robertson throwing nothing but dirtballs, and b) he tightened up in the playoffs.

The defense will improve going forward. Again, Sanchez just turned 25 in December. He’ll figure out how to block better.

The other knock on Gary was his .192 playoff batting average and .214 playoff OBP. For such a talented hitter, he was insanely un-clutch. But playoff performances will improve with time.

As he plays in more Postseason games, there’s little doubt that Sanchez will grow comfortable enough to hit like the superstar he is. Notably, Sanchez did not allow any passed balls in 13 playoff games.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Sanchez has a chance — a chance — to be the best Yankees catcher since Yogi Berra. Better than Posada, better than Munson.

I’m not saying it will  happen. But Sanchez is already one of the best hitters in the game at any position. If Gary becomes a plus defender, he will be one of the very best players of his generation.

Behind Sanchez, the Yankees seem content to give Austin Romine another season as the second catcher.

It will be Romine’s third season as the team’s primary backup. Although he doesn’t hit at all (.218/.272/.293 with two home runs in 80 games last year), Romine is a sturdy defender and a trusted receiver.

He’s not great, but he’s good enough. Romine has the confidence of the coaching staff. If he didn’t, Cashman would have brought in another fringe catcher to compete with him.

Romine is out of options, so this might be his last year in pinstripes. He’s been with the team for a long time. Remember, he made his debut all the way back in 2011.

His finest moment has to be last August’s tussle with Miguel Cabrera. He evaded several punches before dropping the former MVP like a bad habit. Talk about cojones. That’s a guy I want on my team.