It didn’t take long for Gary Sanchez to make New York Yankees fans forget he was an All-Star caliber catcher during the first half of the 2021 season.
Only for a short amount of time did Sanchez actually maintain that quasi-status, and he’s proven over the last few months that he’s probably not going to be worth ~$8 million in 2022, especially for the now-cost-conscious front office.
The argument that Sanchez provides a “unique advantage” at a position that’s among the weakest in the league is losing whatever steam it had left. His offense no longer makes up for his below-average defense, and it really hasn’t in a few years.
And do the Yankees really have any sort of edge over their opponent with Sanchez behind the plate, solely because he hits home runs?
Remember, guys, there’s a reason Kyle Higashioka stole his starting job for the postseason in 2020. The Yankees could not afford to play Sanchez. He was a liability on both sides of the ball and clearly oblivious as to why he lost playing time … which says a lot.
Now, in 2021, the Yankees haven’t been as harsh with the 28-year-old, but perhaps they should start.
The Yankees probably shouldn’t retain Gary Sanchez in the offseason.
Let’s take a look at where Sanchez ranks among the league’s catchers in some important categories.
- Will Smith (LAD) – .896
- Buster Posey (SFG) – .892
- Salvador Perez (KCR) – .862
- Mike Zunino (TBR) – .839
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) – .788
- Omar Narvaez (MIL) -.784
- JT Realmuto (PHI) – .784
- Elias Diaz (COL) – .774
- Eric Haase (DET) .756
- Willson Contreras (CHC) – .748
- Gary Sanchez (NYY) – .743
Sanchez, among those who have played at least 85 games, isn’t even top-10 in OPS. He’s 10th in RBI with 51, but guys like Haase, Jacob Stallings (PIT), and Sean Murphy (OAK) out-rank him. He’s slightly above average with a 103 wRC+ and his -9 Defensive Runs saved is last among catchers who have logged at least 800 innings this year.
Three unforgivable defensive gaffes by Sanchez have cost the Yankees wins over the last week alone. You saw the play last Friday night against the Mets. Then he completely whiffed on a Clay Holmes fastball (it was ruled a wild pitch, but many would argue that simply has to be caught — and what about the one that allowed the runner to get to second in the first place?). Then came Saturday against the Indians, when he completely missed a popup behind home plate, which would’ve been the second out of the inning with nobody on base. Instead, that led to a seven-run frame to put the Bombers down 8-0.
At this point, if the Yankees simply had an adequate defensive catcher who possessed occasional pop, they’d be better off. Such a candidate would be millions of dollars cheaper, too, and allowing the front office to spend elsewhere, especially if Hal Steinbrenner is going to be frugal when constructing the 2022 roster.
Most fans understood giving Sanchez a second chance after his shortened 2020 season, which, while unacceptable, was hard to evaluate since so many players struggled given the circumstances.
He’s had another full season to prove his inconsistencies were in the rearview. And yet again, he’s going to play fewer than 120 games … which he’s done three out of his four full seasons. It’s time to move on. The Yankees can’t be worrying about him hitting home runs elsewhere because he simply does more harm than good for a team with World Series aspirations.