In a season the place he discovered himself the topic of dialog amongst Yankees followers for all of the fallacious causes, Gary Sánchez will seemingly enter the 2020 season doing one thing he has not accomplished since he first got here up in 2016: battle for his job.
When requested on the end-of-season convention name with reporters in regards to the beginning catcher job on Wednesday, Brian Cashman refused to commit outwardly to both Sánchez or Kyle Higashioka — who started the season because the crew’s backup — because the starter. “Might very effectively be a change, may very effectively be a contest,” he mentioned, additionally including that “the way in which Gary Sánchez’s season transpired after which the way in which it ended with Higashioka really beginning within the postseason as many video games as he did” makes it “one of many dialogue factors we’re going to must concentrate on.”
Not surprisingly, this assertion, albeit not fully sudden, has sparked a flurry of weblog posts, podcast feedback, Twitter discussions, and columns about Sánchez’s future with the Yankees. Sánchez, who will flip 28 years outdated in August, shall be eligible for his second 12 months of arbitration, after receiving $5 million final winter; as such, he’s been thought-about by speculators to be both on the commerce market or, much more drastically, a nontender candidate.
I’m not going to get into the deserves of transferring Sánchez this winter: your perspective on the matter goes to return all the way down to your opinion of his potential to bounce again from such a foul season, as his commerce worth is at an all-time low. Moreover, Matt Swartz’s projections of arbitration salaries, posted at MLB Commerce Rumors, venture him to obtain solely a minimal wage bump (between $100,000-$1.5 million at most), a reasonably affordable quantity, in my view, for a man as streaky as Sánchez has been. What I do need to take a look at, nevertheless, is the thought of a contest for the beginning catching job itself.
Though it’s simple to overlook, given how his season went and the way way back it was, however Luke Voit didn’t enter spring coaching this 12 months because the undisputed starter at first base. Due to his injury-riddled second half that noticed him put up solely a .228/.348/.368 slash with 4 house runs in 40 video games from July-September and Mike Ford’s scorching streak in August and September — .274/.333/.619 slash with 11 house runs in 39 video games (27 video games began) — many speculated that Ford would have a real shot to take the job. Later, as soon as Miguel Andújar started to study first base within the spring, and it seemed as if the Yankees have been not less than contemplating different options for the place, even when Voit was the clear front-runner even earlier than camp started.
Likelihood is, we might find yourself seeing one thing comparable subsequent spring behind the plate, notably if the Yankees don’t add a further catcher (besides, after all, for these within the Erik Kratz mould, primarily introduced in for spring coaching depth and ticketed for Scranton from day one). That mentioned, whereas the competitors will seemingly be fairer than any first base competitors had been this previous 12 months, as issues at the moment stand, the Yankees will nearly actually be pulling for Sánchez to say the majority of the taking part in time for himself. For all of the hype that Higashioka’s efficiency generated, in reality, he turns 31 subsequent April, and has solely 72 video games scattered over 4 seasons underneath his belt. At his greatest, then again, Sánchez could be a game-changer, able to offering corner-infield ranges of manufacturing at a place that’s primarily recognized for weak-hitting, defense-first gamers.
Regardless of how a possible place battle shakes out, each gamers would seemingly obtain loads of taking part in time. Whereas it isn’t confirmed whether or not Higashioka will proceed as Gerrit Cole’s private catcher, it’s most likely a protected wager at this level. Even when Sánchez pulls away and wins the competitors outright, he seemingly gained’t be beginning on Opening Day, and shall be sitting not less than as soon as each 5 days anyway.
In fact, we’re nonetheless in mid-October, and pitchers and catchers will report someplace round February 16-17 (when the Mets, Orioles, and Rays, the one three groups which have at the moment introduced their spring coaching schedule, will report). Between from time to time, there’s nonetheless 4 months during which trades, free agent signings, and extra shall be occurring. Lots can occur between from time to time — and that’s even earlier than we start to debate whether or not or not spring coaching will start on time! That mentioned, the Yankees’ catching job shall be a narrative to keep watch over over the following few months.