Yankees: Kyle Higashioka comments on competition with Gary Sanchez

Feb 18, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez talks to catcher Kyle Higashioka (86) during MLB spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez talks to catcher Kyle Higashioka (86) during MLB spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Though the New York Yankees retained Gary Sanchez when they tendered him a contract back in December, many fans might be forgetting that the starting job is far from his to claim heading into spring training. Just because 2020 is in the past doesn’t change the fact El Gary was benched for the biggest games of the year when October rolled around.

That paved the way for Kyle Higashioka to get more reps, and he proved himself with some timely hits and top-notch defense — two things Sanchez hasn’t provided on a consistent basis in quite some time now. Also, the fact that Higgy is Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Sanchez.

The Yankees have made it clear they are going with the best players they have at each position, which was evident in 2020 when Sanchez got benched and Clint Frazier earned a full-time role in the outfield, cutting into Brett Gardner’s reps. As for the battle behind the plate, Higashioka commented on the situation with him and Sanchez.

"“I think we’re both professional about it. I don’t think we hold it against each other,” Higashioka told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “It’s just we know we need to always be playing at our best level or else there’s [a possibility] that we might not be playing too much.“At the end of the day, we want to win the World Series. It doesn’t do any good if we were to be at each other’s throats or something.”"

Well, maybe Sanchez has nothing against Higashioka, but it’s clear the slugger took issue with how the Yankees handled the situation during the playoffs. Sanchez said earlier this offseason that it wasn’t clearly communicated to him that he’d be benched and that he “didn’t know why he wasn’t playing.”

And then Brian Cashman did the honors of putting Sanchez on blast.

On a lighter note, there will be plenty of reps to go around at catcher. Nothing against Sanchez, but he’s never even come close to playing a full 162-game season, so Higashioka will likely be getting a healthy dose of playing time in 2021 beyond just catching Cole, even if Sanchez manages to bounce back.

It’d be great to see both of these guys atop their game and contributing to the roster in a productive manner. Higgy said it himself — they just want to win the World Series.