Gary Sanchez isn’t guaranteed another Yankees chance

4 weeks ago

In less than a month the Yankees have to decide whether or not to offer Gary Sanchez a contract.

Dec. 2, which is Sanchez’s 28th birthday, is the day clubs have to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Should a player not be tendered he becomes a free agent.

Due to the enormous financial losses facing major league teams because of the COVID pandemic, the list of non-tenders will be long and include players who in other years wouldn’t come close to being on it.

So, what do with Sanchez, who is eligible for a second trip through the arbitration process after a brutal season in which he hit .147 (23-for-156) with 10 homers, 24 RBIs, posted a .618 OPS and lost his starting job to Kyle Higashioka in the postseason?

In 2017, Sanchez was being talked about as the Yankees’ best hitter and drawing comparisons to Manny Ramirez when the discussion was about feared right-handed hitters.

Three years later, Sanchez’s future with the Yankees, the team he signed with as a 16-year-old in 2009, is foggy. Had a full 2020 season been played, Sanchez would have banked $ 5 million. Since service time carries weight in the arbitration process, Sanchez would likely get an increase.

Gary Sanchez
Gary SanchezCorey Sipkin

There are industry voices who believe the Yankees will tender Sanchez because they have spent a lot of time developing him, and while the Dodgers’ World Series title wasn’t a fluke, the landscape is littered with very good players who had subpar 2020 seasons.

Francisco Lindor batted .258 this past season. Cody Bellinger hit .239 and Christian Yelich batted .205.

While anything is possible, the odds that Sanchez will duplicate this past season are very long. If Giancarlo Stanton were able to play left field a few days a week, that would open time at DH for Sanchez. But it’s pretty clear Stanton’s best value to the Yankees is as the DH.

Also factoring in the decision whether to keep Sanchez or not is what happens if he returns to the right-handed power threat he was from 2017-19 while playing someplace else? And do the Yankees view Higashioka, 30, as an everyday big-league catcher? It appears free agent J.T. Realmuto is likely to remain a Phillie, and the free-agent market thins considerably behind him.

It’s possible Sanchez’s struggles at the plate were connected to what he was doing behind it, where he constantly was checking the information on his wrist band and attempting to feel comfortable kicking a leg out in order to get lower strikes by framing pitches better.

There are other voices who believe the Yankees should move on and let Sanchez become a free agent.

“They have more than enough firepower without him,’’ an NL talent evaluator said of Sanchez, who started two of the seven Yankees playoff games, hit ninth and went 1-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs.

Not that DJ LeMahieu needed a résumé booster to make him a more attractive free agent, but the Yankees’ second baseman won his second straight Silver Slugger award Thursday night.

LeMahieu, who is one of three finalists in the AL MVP race, led the majors with a .364 batting average and the AL with a 1.011 OPS. He added 10 homers and 27 RBIs.

The 32-year-old right-handed hitter also added a second batting title.

As a free agent, there is a strong chance LeMahieu returns to The Bronx, but in 2020 there is very little guaranteed.

Luke Voit led the majors with 22 homers, but Jose Abreu of the White Sox won the first base Silver Slugger award in the AL. Abreu hit .317 with 19 homers and a major league-leading 60 RBIs. His 76 hits topped AL hitters.

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Baseball | New York Post


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