Gary Sanchez: Apprehensive Yankees Carrying Four Catchers As Backups

Gary Sanchez: Yankee Enigma (Adam Hunger AP)

In most trades, Gary Sanchez would be honored if his company needed to carry four more employees over three months in case he’s out sick. But not here.

In the three years (2017-19), Gary Sanchez has been a regular catcher; he has missed 189 games or 35% of the games the Yankees have played. In and out of the lineup has become his trademark.

A two-time All-Star, Gary Sanchez is an offensive powerhouse at age 24 with 105 career home runs – when he’s on the field. His defensive lapses have been cataloged ad infinitum here and elsewhere, and his work ethic often is not up to par.

When he was charged by then Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, for “not hustling” to block balls in the dirt (ergo, bunches of passed balls, and “wild” pitches), the Yankees quickly rushed to the defense of Gary Sanchez.

Ultimately, this added to the schism between the front office and Girardi that eventually led to his dismissal.

Sanchez reached for straws the next day when he was held out of the lineup (video).

The unlimited support of Gary Sanchez continues. As recently as two weeks ago, manager Aaron Boone said of Sanchez, “I feel like he’s drawing some unfair ire at times from people.” (Newsday)

Boone went on to add, “He could be the best catcher in the sport,” Boone said. “He’s that talented”.

Aaron Boone’s Double Talk See Through

It’s telling when Boone moves away from the team’s talking points to get closer to the truth about Gary Sanchez. Yes, he could be the best catcher in baseball – he’s that talented.

Gary Sanchez could be a lot of things, but the one thing he isn’t is a reliable starting catcher for the New York Yankees.

Kyle Higashioka - Yankees back-up catcher (Photo:
Kyle Higashioka – Yankees back-up catcher (Photo:

This is highlighted when the Yankees chose to carry four back-up catchers on their temporary roster (only Texas is carrying more).

Let’s remember, too, we’re talking about sixty games, not 162.

First in line after the departure of free agent Austin Romine is Kyle Higashioka. The Yankees have also added insurance from Chris Iannetta, Josh Thole, and Erik Kratz. Of note, Higashioka makes the team mainly because he is out of options to the minors.

Additionally and also worthy of note is the Yankees’ selection of Austin Wells in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft on Wednesday night. He’s the second catcher taken by the Yankees in the first round over the last three years?

Gary Sanchez: A Worthy Receiver Of The Yankees Apprehension

No manager or team rep is going to come out publicly to criticize one of his players. Aaron Boone’s job is to defend and coax his players to success.

Gary Sanchez: The Time Is Now
Gary Sanchez: The Time Is Now

At the same time, the actions taken by the Yankees speak louder than the empty words we hear when the reference is Gary Sanchez.

The Yankees need Sanchez in the lineup as another dimension forcing the opposing pitcher to stay in a full concentration mode for fear that one mistake goes deep into the seats.

As Boone said, Gary Sanchez can be the player who makes a difference. But signs of a brittle (or maybe lazy) Sanchez surfaced in March before the shutdown when he pleaded for time off after catching two consecutive days.

At the time, Sanchez told ESPN, “It’s been a little tight, a little uncomfortable. After catching those games back-to-back, I just thought it was better for me to take care of it now. This is the right time to take care of anything,”

Like – what is it that you were doing with yourself all winter, Gary?

Gary Sanchez – At The Proverbial Crossroad

Or, maybe it should be the other way round with the Yankees at the crossroad with Gary Sanchez.

J.T. Realmuto, Catcher, Florida Marlins Photo Credit: Sporting News
J.T. Realmuto, Catcher, Phillies Photo Credit: Sporting News

At the moment, Sanchez is the Yankees’ best bet to help them win a World Championship. There’s no argument there.

But come November, everything can (and should) change when J.T. Realmuto comes out as a free agent.

If anything, Sanchez should see that as fair warning, especially if the Yankees fall short in the postseason again, and Gary Sanchez is out injured or not a decisive factor in the lineup.

As a Yankee fan, I want Gary Sanchez to succeed. But I’m also at wit’s end and running out of patience – and I’m hoping the Yankees see it that way as well.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.