Yankees Rumors: Gary Sanchez Tendered Contract Ahead of Deadline

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees takes a lead off of second base against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 16, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The New York Yankees tendered a contract to Gary Sanchez, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The deadline for the team to do so was Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Spotrac estimated Sanchez would earn $7.5 million in 2022, the final year he's eligible for arbitration before hitting free agency.

While his performance represented an improvement over the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the veteran catcher struggled at the plate in 2021. He had 23 home runs but slugged .423 and had a 99 OPS+, per Baseball Reference

Sanchez's value on defense was limited as well. He sat 55th on Baseball Savant's catcher framing leaderboard.

At least for now, committing to the 28-year-old was the sensible move for the Yankees.

Kyle Higashioka is under team control through 2024, but starting a catcher with a .619 career OPS, per Baseball Reference, is less than ideal.

The Bronx Bombers don't have a younger backstop waiting in the wings, either. Austin Wells (No. 6) is the highest-ranked catcher in their system on MLB.com, and he isn't expected to hit the majors until 2023. Wells didn't get above High-A this past season.

Speaking with reporters at a charity event for the team on Nov. 19, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged the team was exploring all avenues behind the plate but that it wasn't exactly a buyer's market:

"As of right now, Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka are our (catchers) unless we run into something that we feel can upgrade that and make it better. We are obviously having conversations to see if there's options. Catching is a very thin market. It was last year, and I can say it looks like it’s that way this year again. But it doesn't preclude us from exploring potential options that exists out there. And if not, we'll go back with what we have."

Sanchez probably won't replicate his first two years again. Across 2016 and 2017, he had 53 home runs and 132 RBI in 175 games and boasted a .384/.354/.568 slash line. But the two-time All-Star offers a solid baseline in terms of power.

Danny Vietti @DannyVietti

Since 2018, Gary Sanchez has a .201 BA.<br><br>Despite that, he still has the 3rd-most total bases (558) and 3rd-most RBI (208) among AL catchers behind only Salvador Perez and Yasmani Grandal.<br><br>He also has the 2nd-most HR among all MLB catchers during that span behind only Perez. <a href="https://t.co/awDNJVN8fl">pic.twitter.com/awDNJVN8fl</a>

Maybe the right trade materializes for the Yankees to land an upgrade over Sanchez, but one isn't forthcoming in free agency.

Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez were two of the best catchers available, and they're already off the board. The Miami Herald's Craig Mish reported Gomes agreed to a two-year, $13 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, and Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Perez struck a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $5 million over one year.

Retaining Sanchez buys New York more time to identify a long-term solution at catcher.