In August 2020, just as the coronavirus-shortened season was getting underway, Gary Sanchez was having an ignominious beginning to his fifth major league season. He had only two hits in his first 27 at-bats, and had yet to hit a home run.
At that point, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Yankees were considering trading the slugging catcher to another team.
Sanchez bounced back somewhat, but still finished with a batting average below .150. When it came time for the postseason, he didn’t fare any better than his regular season performance, garnering only one hit in nine at-bats. Partly owing to this, the Yankees once again succumbed to another early postseason exit.
The 27-year-old backstop remains an elite power hitter compared to his fellow catchers. Since 2017, Sanchez has slugged 95 home runs, more than any other catcher. In addition, his arm strength behind the plate is among the best in the league.
Yet his ability to handle errant throws by his battery mate is questionable. In 2017, 2018, and again in 2020, he led the league in passed balls. And while his teammates have consistently praised his work ethic, members of the sports media have stated otherwise, with Mike Greenberg describing one particular incident as “disgraceful.”
The Yankees’ front office has officially stated that Sanchez remains a valuable commodity for the team. His overall value, however, may have a greater impact as a bargaining chip in a trade deal.
A possible candidate in a deal for Sanchez is Texas starting pitcher Lance Lynn, who has excelled on the diamond since arriving in Texas in 2019. That year, Lynn finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting. The Yankees also might consider pulling Aroldis Chapman from his closer role and replacing him with Milwaukee left-hander Josh Hader. Hader is a two-time All-Star, and at 26 years of age is unlikely to regress any time soon.
Ultimately, trading Sanchez would open the door to signing free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto is an elite catcher, but it would be unwise for the Yankees to sign another large contract, considering the financial obligations they still owe to Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole.