New York Yankees rumors have focused a lot on adding starting pitching and hiring a new manager this offseason, but catcher Gary Sanchez has also come up as a topic of conversation. Going back to last season, the “talking heads” on sports shows have discussed his sub-par defense behind the plate. There were additional miscues during the playoffs that have created murmurs on social media about how Sanchez would help the team more as a designated hitter or first baseman.
Baseball analyst Jon Morosi actually posed that exact question to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, asking if he would consider trading for a catcher and moving Gary Sanchez to designated hitter. As Morosi tells it, Cashman was very emphatic when he gave the answer “hell no” to the question. Morosi posted this report on Twitter, possibly bringing an end to the current New York Yankees rumors. What it won’t do, though, is end speculation about whether that is the right decision for the franchise.
A report by New Jersey Advanced Media (NJ.com) came out during the 2017 MLB season that discussed Gary Sanchez’s defense. It touched off some New York Yankees rumors about the team possibly going with Austin Romine as the better catcher in crucial situations. It also quoted a scout, who did not have a glowing opinion of Sanchez behind the plate.
“Sanchez has got a ways to go defensively, and I knew it all along. He gets very lazy. He wants to reach instead of shifting his feet. He tries to get away with stuff because of his strong arm.”
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Breaking down some of Gary Sanchez’s defensive statistics paints an ugly picture for the New York Yankees’ catcher. He led the league in errors by a catcher (13) and passed balls (16). The second-worst players at the position weren’t even close to his numbers. He also gave up more wild pitches than any other catcher in the American League. While that is not a number that can solely be blamed on Sanchez, it shows that he may have trouble coming up with the ball.
On the opposite side of the equation is how impressive Sanchez has been at the plate (rather than behind it). During the 2017 MLB season, he hit 33 home runs and had 90 RBIs. Sanchez had a 0.278 batting average, 0.345 on-base percentage, and a 126 OPS+ that helped him win the Silver Slugger Award at catcher. Playing catcher can be tough on the body, though, forcing him to take more days off than if he was the full-time designated hitter or first baseman.
Currently, Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees appear content to live with the defense of Gary Sanchez as long as he keeps hitting well. Many fans have posted on social media about needing to give him time to adjust to the game, allowing the young catcher to have a built-in excuse for his defensive miscues. It’s not a topic that is going to go away, though, and it’s possible that it could even make a free agent pitcher think twice about taking the mound at Yankee Stadium with Sanchez behind the plate.
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