The New York Yankees have always had a great abundance of catchers over the years — Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Joe Girardi, and who could forget, Jorge Posada. Truth be told, 2016 is no different. The Yankees currently have Brian McCann, who finished first in home runs among catchers in 2015, and John Ryan Murphy who in 67 games in 2015, hit .277 and was considered by many as the best backup catcher in baseball.
That’s not all, the Yankees also have Gary Sanchez who is ranked the club’s fifth overall prospect. Sanchez played most of his season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Over his 2015 campaign, Sanchez hit 18 homers, drove in 62 runs and hit .274.
Thus far in the Arizona Fall League, Sanchez is putting on a show. The 6-foot-2-inch catcher is currently slashing .328/.353/.688 with a league leading six home runs. Sanchez was also named to the AFL Fall-Star roster, and was crowned Bowman Star of the Game after his monstrous two-run home run in the fourth inning off of Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland.
Sanchez has been great in the minors, but here is the problem. It might be considered a great problem to have, but one day in the future Sanchez will run out of purpose in the Yankees organization. With McCann signed through 2019, and Murphy as the secure backup, Sanchez really doesn’t have a fit in the Yankees system.
One thing Sanchez can do for the big league club is become trade bait. With Sanchez’s successful fall, the prospect may be drawing interest from multiple teams looking for a long-term catcher. Currently the top candidates for acquiring Sanchez in my mind are the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners with obviously a few more teams interested.
The Braves have been very active in acquiring a young catcher to build around, leaving Atlanta as the number one and most logical place for Sanchez. They also have a lot of young pitching at the major league level including Matt Wisler and Manny Banuelos. The Braves also have a few top pitching prospects such as Max Fried.
The Yankees could be sellers to Atlanta if they could land a young arm or two with potential.
The White Sox are another team that could potentially be interested in Sanchez. Without a solid offensive catcher in quite sometime, the White Sox could use Sanchez as they look to rebound from a disappointing 2015 season. As of now, the Sox have Tyler Flowers who has done a decent job, but they could definitely use more offense from their backstop. Flowers batted .239 in 2015 and the White Sox could use an upgrade.
Their top catching prospect Jhoandro Alfaro is in rookie ball and is still a few years away from seeing any major league action. For the Yankees, the White Sox don’t have much to offer up in return. Tyler Danish could be a potential sell, as he posted a 2.08 ERA with 103/33 K/BB in 130 innings between Low-A and High-A in 2015. Francellis Montas and Spencer Adams are also potential arms that could go back the Yankees way.
The Seattle Mariners are also in need of a catcher, but the last time a catcher was involved in a trade from the Yankees to the Mariners it didn’t go so well in Seattle. However, the Mariners current catcher Mike Zunino has not been impressive in any way. Catching prospect John Hicks has struggled, and Tyler Marlette still needs some work. The Mariners also have some pitching they could be willing to move. James Paxton and Taijuan Walker could be two potential arms the Yankees could receive in return. The Mariners would likely be unwilling to part with Walker unless a package of prospects went back to Seattle from New York.
With Sanchez, the Yankees could definitely explore their options, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has already said he is open to trading anyone.
The Philadelphia Phillies could be another potential team for Sanchez. The Phillies have Carlos Ruiz signed through 2017, but in the long run, they are looking for another offensive catcher. They have plenty of catching prospects such as Andrew Knapp and Gabriel Lino, but neither has shown impressive offensive ability. The Phillies could use Sanchez as a fill-in for Ruiz until their prospects develop.
The Colorado Rockies could also be a team that could use Sanchez as their prospects are not ready and they have begun to lose faith. Unless the Rockies are willing to move infield or pitching depth however, a deal will not get done.
In the end, Sanchez could stay in New York for another year and serve as a third catcher and injury protection to McCann and Murphy, but with the standout performance he has had this fall, the Yankees could easily look to make a move for the betterment of both parties in the long run.