Yankees’ verdict on Gary Sanchez will tell us everything

What the Yankees do before 8 p.m. on Wednesday will reveal how they viewed a 60-game season from an individual standpoint and the impact of the financial hit they took by playing games without selling one ticket.

Like all teams, the Yankees have to tender arbitration-eligible players contracts by Wednesday evening. If a player is tendered he is a signed player. If not tendered, he is a free agent.

And the premier name in that situation is catcher Gary Sanchez, who turns 28 on Wednesday, a two-time All-Star who hit 34 home runs and drove in 77 runs during the 2019 season before producing a dreadful 2020 season in which he batted an unfathomable .147 (23-for-156) and struck out a whopping 64 times in 49 games and started just two of the seven Yankees playoff games.

The buzz in the scouting industry is teams shouldn’t put too much stock in a two-month regular season when it comes to individual performances, good or bad.

If the Yankees use that glass half-full approach, then they likely tender Sanchez a contract and prepare to give him a raise from the $5 million he made in the pandemic-impacted 2020 season.

Should the Yankees not tender Sanchez a contract, it will be an indication they don’t believe he is worth that type of money coming off the year he had and an indication that the club is making an effort to get under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold for 2021. It is believed the Yankees took a financial hit upward of $220 million last season. After the season Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees lost more money than any other team.

One factor that favors Sanchez returning is that if he doesn’t, the Yankees have to find a catcher to pair with Kyle Higashioka and that would likely come from the free-agent pool that isn’t deep after J.T. Realmuto, who will be beyond the Yankees’ reach financially.

The next-best free agent catcher is likely 30-year-old James McCann, who hit .289 with seven homers, drove in 15 runs and posted a .896 OPS in 31 games for the White Sox this past season for which he was paid $5.4 million.

Sanchez’s dramatic drop-off at the plate in 2020 after he hit 34 homers, drove in 77 runs and posted an .841 OPS in 106 games in 2019 was seen by some as a struggle with the defensive changes introduced to him.

Some believe he was a victim of information overload and backed that up by mentioning how many times Sanchez looked at the information on the wristband he wore on his left arm. And he never appeared comfortable with the new catching stance introduced by instructor Tanner Swanson, which had Sanchez kicking out a leg in order to turn borderline low pitches into strikes via pitch framing.

Should Sanchez return he will likely not be working with staff ace Gerrit Cole. Higashioka caught Cole in his two postseason starts and three other October games. Manager Aaron Boone started Higashioka in Cole’s final four regular-season starts.

During the regular season, Cole posted a 1.00 ERA and held hitters to a .147 (14-for-95) in four games throwing to Higashioka compared to a 3.91 ERA in eight games working with Sanchez. Hitters batted .224 (39-for-174) and had a .776 OPS against Cole with Sanchez catching.

Do the Yankees put Sanchez’s awful season in the “It was 2020 baseball” and move forward with him? Or is shedding that estimated $6 million part of a plan to get under the luxury-tax threshold?

The verdict arrives Wednesday.

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article