If the New York Yankees' secret summit in Florida leaves them armed and mentally prepared to overspend for Blake Snell, someone should remind them not to leave his secret weapon in San Diego.
His personal catcher. The only backstop with the quick reflexes and defensive acumen necessary to harness his wildly dipping breaking stuff. The level-headed, glove-minded force who's able to time his mound visits perfectly and make sure the lefty doesn't get out of control -- and that's tough to do, considering his control often escapes him, to the tune of an historic walk rate and league-leading 99 free passes during his Cy Young season in 2023. If you can find a catcher who can actually whisper to an impossible-to-harness force like Snell, by gosh you keep him, no matter what you have to do.
And, for Snell, that man is ... Gary Sánchez?!
Yes. It's true. The much maligned Yankees backstop known for drilling 20 homers from August 2016 through the end of the year, leading a lineup full of young thumpers in 2017, then never living up to that level of potential again while mental and physical lapses continued to plague him behind the plate, was Snell's comfort blanket. What are we ... supposed to ... do with that?
Blake Snell's personal catcher in San Diego was ex-Yankees backstop Gary Sánchez
Even crazier? Dylan Cease's personal catcher is Josh Donaldson.
As Snell's season calcified into greatness, Sánchez caught 18 of the left-hander's starts consecutively, impressing him by blocking a 97 MPH dirtball and spiked curve consecutively. If that doesn't sound like the Sánchez you remember in the Bronx, you're not alone; the Yankees messed with his stance myriad times, and every tweak seemingly provided wonkier results than the last. Sánchez led the league in passed balls in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
Not only did Snell find a comfort zone with Sánchez last season, but even MLB insider Ken Rosenthal saw fit to speculate this offseason that the connection was strong enough to breed a potential reunion in free agency. That can't happen in New York; the Yankees already have a ridiculous six catchers on their 40-man roster, with Austin Wells and Jose Trevino set to split time next season behind the plate.
If Sánchez's exclusion from the payroll is a dealbreaker, the Yankees will have to look elsewhere, or seek out a new way to keep Snell comfortable. Maybe his close friend Aaron Judge can smooth things over?
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