Did the New York Yankees kill the Gary Sánchez discourse by exiling him to Minnesota last year? Or did Sánchez’s own performance with the Twins cement the end of his early-career hype machine, proving once and for all that burgeoning Yankees stars really do get more attention than everyone else?
Brian Cashman’s Isiah Kiner-Falefa/Josh Donaldson/Gio Urshela/Sánchez mega-swap remains ill-advised, but cutting ties with Sánchez was a necessity all along. The issue isn’t that the Yankees let the Kraken walk; it was that they chose to absorb chunks of salary to make it happen, rather than non-tendering him before Dec. when they could’ve easily just saved money instead.
Given the chance to split duties between catcher and DH in 2022, as God had likely always intended, Sánchez didn’t take the leap forward many were hoping he would living life as a bat-first option.
He was worth 0.9 WAR, but posted a below-average offensive season … actually, well below-average, as his 89 OPS+ and .659 OPS were remarkably low for someone with Sánchez’s raw power. 16 homers still sounds impressive for a catcher, until you consider the environment, the 33 DH starts (where his OPS rose from .633 as a catcher to .737), and the general malaise.
And so, entering free agency, it doesn’t appear many teams are eager to save the 30-year-old Sánchez. Not a Yankee. No longer the dominant storyline.
Where will former Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez land in free agency?
From the Cardinals to the Guardians to the Boston Red Sox, numerous MLB teams entered this offseason with catching vacancies. Hell, the Braves created one by dealing All-Star William Contreras just to trade for A’s star Sean Murphy.
At this point in the offseason, though, several of these slots have been filled. The Cardinals added Willson Contreras, while the Guardians inked Mike Zunino, following concerning surgery to resolve the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. The Pirates have Austin Hedges. The A’s no longer sign players to MLB deals (hope you understand!). The Blue Jays still hold a major trade card in Danny Jansen, who could upend Sánchez’s market further. The Red Sox? Don’t really want to think about it — and, besides, is Sánchez purely a catcher, at this point?
According to Cameron Maybin, David Ross might be the catching guru Sánchez has been looking for all this time after the Yankees messed with his head/continued to change his defensive instructors.
Maybe the Cubs have been the right spot all along, with Contreras departing to their rival Cards.
Sánchez’s next opportunity won’t be as a prize or centerpiece. He’ll be signing a “get right” deal with a team confident they can rehab his image and get him back to slugging at an All-Star level.
Somewhere in between the spotlight of New York and the low, droning din of Oakland feels right, and the Cubbies, confused contention narratives and all (Dansby Swanson? No Ian Happ trade?), could be the perfect stop for Sánchez’s purgatory.