Top Landing Spots and Trade Packages for Yankees' Gary Sanchez amid Rumors
The New York Yankees are reportedly ready to move on from Gary Sanchez.
The 27-year-old emerged as their everyday catcher in a breakout 2016 season in which he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He was subsequently an All-Star and 30-homer slugger in 2017 and 2019, yet he's fresh off a brutal 2020 campaign that ended with him riding the pine in October.
According to Dan Martin, Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are willing to listen to offers for Sanchez this winter. If so, the questions are which teams might be interested and what the Yankees might extract from them.
With the first step being an honest discussion of Sanchez's trade value, let's take a whack at answering both of those questions with a look at six hypothetical trades.
What Is Sanchez's Trade Value?
To some extents, Sanchez bears a resemblance to J.T. Realmuto during the 2018-19 offseason:
- He's an All-Star catcher
- He's coming off his age-27 season
- He's under club control for two more seasons
Unlike the Miami Marlins with Realmuto, however, the Yankees won't be looking to move Sanchez in a trade that brings back prospects for a rebuild. Their goal every year is to contend for the World Series. And while they're open to moving Sanchez, the Post report states that they're also "determined not to give him away."
Trouble is, Sanchez's trade value is at a nadir right now.
Though he was an All-Star last season, he was a .186 hitter in just 89 games in 2018 and was even worse in 2020. He struck out 64 times in 178 plate appearances and hit just .147 with a .618 OPS. He also was a deeply flawed defender, resulting in a career-low minus-0.5 rWAR.
Rather than a star trade chip, Sanchez is more of a change-of-scenery candidate. Our best guess is that if the Yankees do trade him, their end of the deal would also be centered on a change-of-scenery candidate. Or if one isn't available, probably non-elite yet MLB-ready prospects.
Here are six proposals, presented in ascending order of intrigue.
The Washington Nationals have two reasons to call the Yankees about Sanchez.
They need a catcher to fill the shoes of Kurt Suzuki, who's a free agent. But they more so need a right-handed slugger who could work in tandem with Juan Soto. After losing Anthony Rendon to free agency last winter, the Nats got only 37 home runs from the right side of the plate in 2020.
The tricky part here concerns Washington's relative shortage of expendable players. The club simply can't spare much from its major league roster, and its farm system is arguably the worst in MLB.
Yet the Nats might pique New York's interest by dangling right-hander Joe Ross, who, like Sanchez, is 27 and under club control through 2023. He might also need a change of scenery, as the last four years have seen him post a 5.21 ERA, undergo Tommy John surgery and opt out of 2020.
Rather than settle for Ross alone, the Yankees could demand a deal-sweetener. In powerful 27-year-old catcher Raudy Read, they might see a player with a vaguely Luke Voit-esque aura to him.
The Deal: Nationals get C Gary Sanchez; Yankees get RHP Joe Ross and C Raudy Read
The Philadelphia Phillies got stellar production out of Realmuto over the last two seasons. But now he's a free agent, potentially leaving the Phillies with a huge hole to fill behind the plate.
If the Phillies angled to replace the Gold Glove-winning Realmuto with Sanchez, the defensive downgrade would be substantial. But with him alongside Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, Alec Bohn and Jean Segura, the Phillies would be able to claim one of baseball's top offenses.
Like the Nats, the catch is that the Phillies can't spare a whole lot. Their major league roster is similarly short on depth, and there isn't much in the club's farm system after right-hander Spencer Howard—who's slated to open the 2021 season in Philly's starting rotation.
In lieu of Howard, the Yankees would have to at least get 23-year-old righty Adonis Medina, who has a decent floor by way of three average-to-above-average pitches. But the Yankees would also need another piece, preferably one with more upside.
Damon Jones, a 6'5" lefty with a plus fastball-curveball combination, could potentially be that guy.
The Deal: Phillies get C Gary Sanchez; Yankees get RHP Adonis Medina and LHP Damon Jones
With the Colorado Rockies, it's hard to tell whether the road ahead involves contending or rebuilding.
In the event that the Rockies choose to go through Door No. 1 this winter, they could develop interest in Sanchez on two fronts. He would upgrade a catcher spot that produced minus-0.7 rWAR in 2020 and an offense that was 20 percent below average in general.
The Rockies are still another club that has very little depth in either its major league roster or its farm system. But assuming they don't just non-tender him, they might try to interest the Yankees in Jon Gray as a reclamation project.
The 29-year-old is coming off a 6.69 ERA and looking ahead to his final season under club control in 2021. Yet his 2017 and 2019 seasons are evidence that he's capable of ace-like production, and escaping Denver would only make him more likely to reach that level again.
To balance out the difference in controllability between Sanchez and Gray, the Yankees would need one of Colorado's better prospects. For instance, hard-throwing 6'4" southpaw Ben Bowden.
The Deal: Rockies get C Gary Sanchez; Yankees get RHP Jon Gray and LHP Ben Bowden
Though Marlins figurehead Derek Jeter missed out on playing with Sanchez when his career with the Yankees ended in 2014, he might nonetheless covet the slugging catcher from afar.
Even after a surprise postseason run in 2020, Jeter's club is still riddled with holes. The biggest ones are in the Marlins lineup, which needs both a catcher and a home run hitter. To wit, the Marlins hit only 60 homers all season in 2020.
As for why the Marlins and Yankees might line up as trade partners, it's quite simple: The Yankees need pitching, and the Marlins are one of very few teams that actually has pitching to spare.
Granted, the Yankees wouldn't have a shot at cornerstone hurlers like Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez or Pablo Lopez. But they might start with 29-year-old righty Ryne Stanek, a hard thrower who had success as a swingman for the Tampa Bay Rays before running into hard times in Miami.
The Yankees could then angle for one of Miami's MLB-ready yet superfluous pitching prospects. Nick Neidert, a 23-year-old righty whose changeup and control rate as plus, would match that description.
The Deal: Marlins get C Gary Sanchez; Yankees get RHPs Ryne Stanek and Nick Neidert
St. Louis Cardinals
It would be weird to see the Cardinals pivot from Molina, a defensive wiz with little power, to Sanchez, a slugger with defensive issues. But the Cardinals frankly need a hitter like Sanchez after 2020, wherein they hit an MLB-low 51 homers in 58 games.
What's more, the Cardinals line up well with the Yankees in that they have more than one change-of-scenery candidate. Of the bunch, none is more intriguing than Carlos Martinez.
The 29-year-old was an All-Star in 2015 and 2017 but has since spent the last three seasons changing roles, battling injuries and enduring criticism from on high. But whether it's as a starter or as a reliever, Martinez would offer the promise of electric stuff and high-level results.
Because Martinez's contract calls for him to make $11.5 million in 2021 with $35 million worth of club options for 2022 and 2023, any deal involving him and Sanchez would have to involve cash going back to New York.
The Deal: Cardinals get C Gary Sanchez; Yankees get RHP Carlos Martinez and cash
New York Mets
Will the Yankees deal Sanchez to their crosstown rivals? Probably not. But it's a possibility—and by far the most intriguing one imaginable.
The Mets need a catcher after declining Wilson Ramos' option for the 2021 season. And while Sanchez would be no help to them defensively, he would further enhance an offense that by one measure (i.e., OPS+) was the best in baseball this season.
The last thing the Mets can spare is pitching, but they do have depth at one position where the Yankees need to upgrade: shortstop.
In the wake of Andres Gimenez's rise as a slick-fielding, fast-running option at shortstop in 2020, Amed Rosario is seemingly ticketed for a bench role in 2021. But given his own defensive improvement and his three remaining years of club control, he's also a compelling trade chip.
If the Mets were to do a Sanchez-for-Rosario swap, the latter's extra year of club control would require them to get a deal-sweetener. To this end, 24-year-old righty Trevor Stephan could potentially step right into the Mets' talent-needy bullpen.
The Deal: Mets get C Gary Sanchez and RHP Trevor Stephan; Yankees get SS Amed Rosario