If the Yankees want to signal both players and fans alike, there’s no better place to start than with Gary Sanchez.
By now, the Yankees and Brian Cashman (hopefully) know they can’t even win a division title with the team they have.
Change is needed, and the Yankees roster will likely not look like it does today on Opening Day 2022.
Over the past six years, no Yankees’ player has occupied more space in past columns than Gary Sanchez. Without argument, he has been the most vilified and enigmatic personality on a Yankees’ team filled with players who have underperformed in recent seasons.
Gary Sanchez is unique, though, because, for the most part, he appears to be a player who has worked hard, significantly to improve his catching prowess, albeit with results that do not measure up to major league standards.
Sanchez has been coddled and protected by the Yankees, provided with a specialized coach, and awarded raises that are not warranted by the numbers.
The futility of these efforts is indicative of a Yankees team that is underperforming and a sign that Brian Cashman needs to send a wake-up to the entire team that more of the same is not acceptable. You can expect to be held accountable.
Yankees: A Divorce That Is Good For Everyone
Forgetting for a moment that many fans and perhaps some of the Yankees’ players hold Cashman accountable, trading Sanchez at the earliest possible moment send up a flare that accomplishes two things.
First, it gives Sanchez a clean start with another team, and perhaps even in another league if the universal DH is adopted, as expected.
And second, if done speedily, it provides the Yankees with time to find a replacement catcher, assuming it is agreed that Kyle Higashioka is a premier backup catcher who falls short as an everyday player.
A scan of the 2022 free-agent catchers shows possibilities, but all are 30 or older. Buster Posey heads the list, but he’s not going anywhere, while Mike Zunino (TB) and Christian Vasquez (BOS) get an honorable mention for being on playoff teams this year.
The Yankees have done an excellent job in re-stocking their farm system with notables like Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux, but they all need more seasoning in the minor leagues.
Even so, the positive outweighs the negative in shedding Sanchez, just as those 23 home runs do not outweigh a .204 batting average, a 1:3 strikeout rate, and sub-par OPS+.
Gary Sanchez: The Good Outweighs The Bad
Expelling Gary Sanchez will not be met well by his loyal contingent of fans in the Yankees Latino fan base. But I suspect that they would like to see Sanchez with a chance to thrive in a new environment, far removed from the pressure-cooker of New York.
From there, the Yankees would then be able to move forward with other subtractions that make way for additions that improve the team going into 2022.
As discussed here before, these subtractions can and should include Luke Voit, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, Aroldis Chapman, and Zack Britton.
Admittedly, that’s quite a list. But if the Yankees are serious about transforming the team into one built to compete in the 2020s – though that willingness is not something we can take for granted – then a major overhaul of the team is necessary.
Gary Sanchez is the poster boy for all that has gone wrong for the Yankees in recent years, and if they’ve failed to win anything of consequence with Sanchez and the others – then the worse that can happen is the Yankees lose again without them.