Yankees: Is Gary Sanchez capable of handling everyday catching duties?


It will be a much-needed fresh start for Gary Sanchez in 2021. But it’s not going to be pressure-free. He needs to prove something to the New York Yankees.

However you like to look at his body of work, cutting and splicing stats for argument’s sake doesn’t get us anywhere. Sanchez has been downright bad defensively (he’s good for one defensive run saved since 2016), his power at the plate is inconsistent, he seemingly can no longer hit for average, he has serious strikeout issues, and he largely can’t stay healthy.

For the one billionth time, there’s not a sane Yankees fan out there rooting against El Gary. Life is better when he’s mowing down runners on the basepaths and creaming home runs into the bleachers. We all want to see it. We need to see it.

But the questions still remain: is he capable of returning to a semblance of his old form, and can he handle everyday catching duties?

The Yankees are giving Gary Sanchez a clean slate in 2021.

Whether you agree or not, this is El Gary’s final year to prove to the Yankees he can be their starting catcher. His rising salary in arbitration will be a point of contention next offseason (it already somewhat was this offseason!) if he doesn’t bounce back after the last two-plus awful years.

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that he lost playing time when Kyle Higashioka took over as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher in 2020. Or when everything really boiled over and Sanchez was benched in the playoffs for every game in favor of Higgy. Those two things happened and they still loom large. Sanchez has work to do in order to make everyone forget about that.

His comments suggest he’s up for the challenge and that he doesn’t even want to think about 2020. That mindset is a tremendous start ahead of a potentially career-defining season.

But is there any situation in which fans can envision El Gary catching every day?

He’s never played in more than 122 games in a single season. He’s never been the team’s catcher when they’ve had this good of a pitching staff. His defense is actually regressing.

His one saving grace was always going to be his bat, but he’s hit .200 since the start of 2018 with an insane 283 strikeouts in 244 games. He’s also dealt with injuries from 2017-2019, which have significantly shortened all of those campaigns.

Is it an impossible feat for the 28-year-old? Not at all. But it’s not outlandish to say the odds are stacked against him since this is something he’s technically never done before, whether his performance was affected by eroding defense, an ice cold bat, or an untimely injury.

The Yankees will need to see semblance of consistency on both sides of the ball and in the health department. That’ll be when El Gary can handle getting behind the plate six times a week. And we’re sure rooting for that to happen. We just don’t know if it’s realistic.