MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Gary Sanchez Trade, Tony La Russa, and More

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IIIOctober 22, 2020

New York Yankees' Gary Sanchez reacts after he struck out swinging in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Boston.  (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

With the 2020 World Series underway, the focus for the 28 MLB teams not named the Tampa Bay Rays or the Los Angeles Dodgers is the 2021 season.

Free agents will be able to sign with new teams five days after the World Series champions are crowned, and player options and qualifying offers are due around the same time—which means the offseason whirlwind will begin to heat up.

As the Rays and Dodgers battle it out, there's already conversation about the future, including coaching decisions and prospects. Amid speculation about which players will play the 2021 season where, one matter from the summer has reemerged recently.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that the New York Yankees were "open to the idea of trading Gary Sanchez" in August but couldn't get a deal done.

After a disappointing 2020 season, during which Sanchez hit just .147 and was moved to the bench by the beginning of September, general manager Brian Cashman did little to dispel conversation about whether the two-time All-Star and 2017 Silver Slugger winner may have a spot behind the plate in the Bronx next season.

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Cashman's honesty about the question marks surrounding the 27-year-old's future is a new development and seemingly based solely on his lack of production this year. Last offseason, he praised the catcher, whom the team signed as an international free agent in 2009 (h/t Ken Davidoff of the New York Post):

"I think we have a distinct advantage by having Gary Sanchez as our everyday catcher. And I know many in the industry feel the same way by their attempts last year, these extremely smart teams trying to see if they can get their hands on him. They're not going to ask this year because everybody saw the numbers behind the numbers from last year and they know what he's capable of. They know he's a huge difference-maker being able to run him out there behind the plate."

Sanchez, who signed a $5 million deal ahead of the 2020 season in an effort for both sides to avoid arbitration, is arbitration-eligible until he hits unrestricted free agency in 2023.

While it's too soon to confidently explore where many major leaguers will end up next season, a number of teams have expressed interest in a 16-year-old Cuban outfielder, Luis Pino.

According to ESPN's Enrique Rojas, the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are leading the competition in signing Pino when he becomes eligible in January.

The 6'0", 180-pounder has also garnered interest from the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants (h/t Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston).

Pino has been working out in the Dominican Republic since December. Rojas expects the teenager to earn a signing bonus of more than $1 million, with ESPN's Kiley McDaniel noting he is an "above-average runner" and has more power than expected.

While the White Sox scouting department puts itself in the running for Pino, the front office has interviewed Tony La Russa for the vacancy at manager, according to 670 The Score.

The 76-year-old is nine seasons removed from coaching, with his most recent stint ending in a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

The Hall of Famer, a four-time Manager of the Year, began his career behind the bench as manager of the White Sox from 1979-86 before moving on to Oakland and St. Louis.

He later served as chief baseball officer for the Arizona Diamondbacks and, in 2017, joined the Red Sox as vice president and special assistant to then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. In 2019, he joined the Los Angeles Angels as a senior adviser.

The White Sox are seeking a replacement for Rick Renteria, who was fired on October 12 after four seasons managing in Chicago, and are looking to announce their new manager within the next two weeks.

As this atypical MLB season winds down, expect the rumor mill to heat up regarding trades, free agency and coaching moves.