The New York Yankees could use an infusion of energy and tenacity up the middle alongside their regularly-scheduled power production from Gary Sánchez.
Unfortunately, there was no discernible upgrade on the market, though, hence the team tendering Sánchez one final contract and hoping for the best, despite clear evidence that he’d be better off bouncing back elsewhere.
At the tail end of baseball’s signing frenzy, prior to at least two months of inaction, the Cubs embarrassingly proved to the Yankees that you can actually sign a free agent catcher while also having a supposed All-Star-level backstop on the roster. Chicago inked Yan Gomes to a two-year, $13 million deal, leaving many wondering what the plan was for Willson Contreras, entering his final year of control.
The Yankees should be among those wondering.
Both Contreras and Sánchez are in their final years before free agency. Both Contreras and Sánchez are a rarity behind the plate, in terms of their power prowess. Contreras, certainly, has the upper hand in terms of eliciting trust from his rotation, and is a louder and more bombastic leader. Sánchez, while still extremely talented, will doubtlessly do better somewhere other than New York.
The Yankees will have to add to Sánchez in order to swing a deal for Contreras, but with the Cubs catcher currently dissatisfied and the Yanks catcher currently approaching Clint Frazier levels of awkwardness in NYC, could there be a partnership here?
This Yankees-Cubs trade for Willson Contreras and Gary Sánchez could work.
Things are far from rosy in Chicago for Contreras. According to insider Gordon Wittenmyer:
"The Cubs have not broached the subject of an extension for their lone, remaining player from their homegrown championship core, and they’re banned from contact during the lockout.And word is that’s not sitting well with the two-time All-Star catcher who has pledged his loyalty to the Cubs if they want him to lead the rebuild — especially after he saw the Cubs sign a former All-Star catcher with starting pedigree in Yan Gomes this week."
If things aren’t sitting well with Contreras, perhaps he’d itch for a fresh start, too.
Consistently among the hardest hitters in the game (top 5% in maximum exit velocity in 2021, 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016 …), you’re going to get 20 homers and a .230 average at the bare minimum from the slugging Cub. For only one year of control and with a relatively even match in salaries, you wouldn’t imagine it would take even a top-10 prospect in addition to close the deal — perhaps, at the maximum, Ken Waldichuk (No. 9) could be paired with Sánchez.
Other candidates include Deivi Garcia, fast-rising Brendan Beck, or rookie-league lottery ticket Alexander Vargas (No. 12). Or, if the Cubs don’t plan on rebuilding and instead want to ride it out, maybe Domingo German could be enough to convince Chicago to roll with Gomes behind the plate full-time?
Whatever the case, Contreras’ most recent tweet seems to indicate he’s already mentally departed the situation.
Very upsetting the Yankees were not able to get anything done here prior to the MLB lockout deadline, but there should be an opportunity for some late movement just before Spring Training.
While waiting and seeing, New York’s braintrust should be plotting a move like this.