After all, at Sánchez’s very best offensively, there aren’t five catchers in the game more impactful … or four … or three …
Unfortunately, Sánchez’s very best may be far behind us. A cavalcade of catching coaches didn’t help matters, further throwing off his trajectory and distracting him from what he does best: mash, specifically into the left-field bleachers.
At an escalating cost of ~$8 million in his final year of arbitration, though, Sánchez’s polarizing talent may finally be outweighed by the dollar figures attached to him. New York needs to spend and spend thoroughly this offseason. Are they sure they want to spend such a hefty chunk on a catcher who’s provided so many jaw-dropping and symbolic moments of failure in recent years?
Alright. Fine. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to bite the bullet and untether Sánchez from the Yankees’ payroll. So how do they replace him?
Certainly not in free agency. The market was already weak before Mike Zunino went back to the Rays, Tucker Barnhart dipped to Detroit the second the feeding frenzy began, and Manny Piña joined the defending World Champions in Atlanta. If the Yankees are going to even pretend to upgrade their catching spot, they’ll have to do it through trade.
Luckily, there are a few options who could be had, some of whom even represent an improvement on Sánchez’s baseline (probably).
These trades could give the Yankees a fresh face behind home plate at the very least, and will provide an upgrade if everything clicks.
These 3 trades can help the Yankees replace Gary Sánchez.
3. Yankees-Willson Contreras Trade
Willson Contreras and Sánchez luckily fall on the same timeline. This isn’t a multi-year commitment to a power-hitting catcher, complete with breakdown fears. This is ditching the final year of control on Sánchez while surrendering assets for the final season of Contreras, who shouldn’t waste his pop and leadership on the moribund Cubs.
Though it’s tempting to label Contreras a “bat-first” catcher, similar to Sánchez, his 4.1 WAR in 2021 proves he can still hack it and provide value on both sides of the ball. His OPS+ of 108 topped Sánchez, as did his maximum exit velocity. Frustratingly, though, Contreras’ K percentage and barrel percentage both ranked below the Yankees’ incumbent in 2021, though not by all that much. Does the defensive upgrade outweigh a slight drop in “expected” stats that never came to fruition, especially because Contreras can boast better production? We think so, though you’re risking an offensive backslide.
To help fill a second need after the departure of Clint Frazier became official, how about adding “Trade Projections Favorite” Ian Happ to this deal? The 27-year-old bashed 25 homers and posted 1.6 WAR (102 OPS+) in a strange season in the CHI. He’s already got a Jomboy Media podcast hosting gig under his belt. Why wouldn’t he want to come to the Bronx?
Luis Gil, Hayden Wesneski, and Oswaldo Cabrera for both players, or just Wesneski and Cabrera for Contreras, paired with a Sánchez non-tender, clearing two 40-man spots for the price of one. Take it or leave it for the one-year audition.