The question has come up. Why the feeling the Yankees need to trade catcher Gary Sanchez?
After all, he is hitting .347 (29-for-61), with An AFL-leading six home runs and 17 RBIs. With an OPS of 1.049 in 14 games, he’s making matters look easy in Arizona .
We’re glad to see Sanchez, who turns 23 Dec. 2, playing so well. He appears locked in under the Arizona sun. In ways, it’s no surprise in Surprise. He can hit. He has power.
He also has no real spot in the Yankees’ future. He is, and he is confirming such every day, quite a valuable trade chip. If packaged well, he can help bring the Yankees a piece that is needed.
Still, the question of why we think this is Sanchez’s most valuable attribute. Here are the reasons:
- The Yankees are loaded at catcher. Brian McCann is signed through 2018 (with a team option for 2019).
- John Ryan Murphy will not turn 25 until next May 13 and is maturing into an excellent backup.
- The Yankees also have Luis Torrens in the system. Even though he missed last season with a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, his skills are rated superior to Sanchez’s by several observers.
- Offense does not a catcher make. Sanchez’s skills behind the plate are not nearly as good as Murphy’s, whom pitchers really enjoy throwing to.
- Sanchez is more valuable in any trade than Austin Romine at this point.
Chances are good the Yankees will move a catcher – or two – this winter. Right now, McCann, Murphy, Sanchez and Romine are all on the 40-man roster. Matters will almost certainly not remain that way through Spring Training.
Sanchez must be given credit for an attitude adjustment this past season. In 2014, he was suspended for a week in Trenton for missing bullpen sessions and attitude. He came back to the Double-A Thunder with much more focus and and determination to do well.
“Have to give Gary credit,” said 2015 Thunder pitching coach Jose Rosado a month into the season. “He knows where he has to improve and is working hard at it.”
Sanchez, of course, went in to hit .274 (100-for-365) with 23 doubles, 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 93 games with Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He batted .295 (39-for-132) in the International League, earning a September call-up and two games with the Yankees.
The bottom line however, he is not as good a catcher as McCann or Murphy. He is not adept at calling a game, is only mediocre defensively and is not that accurate when it comes to controlling the running game. Passed balls are too much of an issue, as are errors.’
So what we have here is a player who is coming along offensively, but is still something of a project defensively and in calling a game. Thus, his best value to the club is as a trade chip, and a valuable one at that.
If the Yankees swap Sanchez, there is a chance he will mature into a star with another club. There also is the chance he’ll become a designated hitter in the future, but the Yankees are not in need in that area, either.
So there is a better than 50-50 chance Sanchez will begin the 2016 season in another club’s Spring Training Camp.