The Yankees Did Their Part – Now It’s All Up To Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez: Looking high for an answer (Sportscasting)

The Yankees will tender a contract to Gary Sanchez for the 2021 season. But whether or not he’s on the team for Opening Day is another matter.

The decision by the Yankees to tender a contract to Gary Sanchez surprises almost no one. For the Yankees, it’s a win-win situation with the focus now shifting to Sanchez to prove his value to the team between now and Opening Day.

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

Sanchez and the Yankees now move into the arbitration phase of a contract settlement. Each party has until January 15, 2021 to submit a salary number. Between now and February 1, when arbitration hearings begin in Scottsdale, Arizona, a contract can be negotiated and agreed to.

The contract itself, though, is the least of the drama surrounding the future of Gary Sanchez. The Yankees will grant Sanchez a modest raise from last year’s $5 million salaries, and Sanchez would be a fool to challenge whatever the Yankees offer.

Yankees Still Driving The Ship Until Sanchez Proves Otherwise

Here’s the trick, though. Whatever contract is agreed to, it will not kick in until the last day of Spring Training. This means the Yankees have between now and then to observe Sanchez in action and continue exploring efforts to trade him to another team.

For the first time in several years, Gary Sanchez will be playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, an acknowledgment that the ball is in his court to show the Yankees the past three years have been nothing but an aberration, and he’s on the way back.

Sanchez has joined Yankees teammates/fellow Dominicans Miguel Andujar and Domingo German on the Toros del Este. You can follow the team and Sanchez’s progress here (use Google’s translator to English).

Yankees Exercising Payroll Constraints

In any other year, Gary Sanchez would likely be an afterthought for the Yankees in solving their problem at the catching position. As usual, with the dollars flowing, J.T. Realmuto and James McCann would be in their sights as free-agents.

Yankees Free-Agent Target James McCann
Yankees Free-Agent Target James McCann

But Hal Steinbrenner has made public and instructed his General Manager Brian Cashman to keep the Yankee payroll under the 2021 luxury tax limit of $210 million. Given what each of these two All-Stars will command, Gary Sanchez is a bargain, if only he can deliver.

If the Yankees were hoping a catcher or two with value would be non-tendered by other teams yesterday, they will be disappointed when they peruse the list of Major League Baseball Transactions. Not one catcher appears on the list.

Other non-tendered notables include Kyle Schwarber, who was cut loose by the Cubs, and Archie Bradley, a fire-balling reliever, who now be included as an interesting free-agent reliever target this winter. In 2020, Bradley posted a 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 18 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings with the Diamondbacks and the Reds.

Neither player figures to be a fit for the Yankees at this time unless they go for overkill in the bullpen by pursuing Bradley.

Yankees Likely To Continue With Baby Steps

With the financial constraints mandated by Steinbrenner, the Yankees will need to play mostly in the kiddie pool, relying on their scouting and analytics people to find lightning in a bottle among the long list of no-names joining the free-agent pool yesterday.

Trevor Bauer: He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Trevor Bauer: He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

One exception may be Trevor Bauer, who would set the Yankees apart from the entire league with a one-two punch the playoffs are designed for if teamed with Gerrit Cole.

With Bauer on board, the Yankees can discontinue efforts to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, and in effect transferring Tanaka’s earning power of around $20 million to Bauer – at least for this year.

Hovering in the background, of course, is this year’s version of Cashman’s White Whale in DJ LeMahieu, a must-sign for the Yankees.

Tip-toeing through the tulips is not the Yankees’ style. It’s an adjustment not only for Brian Cashman to make but for fans as well, and for whom patience is not necessarily a virtue.

Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez begins the next phase of his career today in the Dominican Republic.

For a man who seems to fold when under pressure, no test can be greater than the one he faces in proving he can at least hit the equivalent of Triple-A pitching with authority over the next few weeks.


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Author: stevecontursi

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