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Assessing the trade market for Gary Sanchez

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It might not be a problem right now, and it could be one of the best "problems" in baseball to have, but one day soon Gary Sanchez will run out of room in the Yankees organization and become a trade target. Right now he's a 22-year-old starting catcher who just reached Triple-A, but you can only store him there for so long until his value is gone. With Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy entrenched at the big league level, it will eventually be concluded that Sanchez can help the big league team the best by becoming trade bait. It might not happen at the deadline this year, or even this coming offseason, where it could make more sense to move a longterm piece like Sanchez, but a deal is coming some day and it's important to see who might be in the market today, tomorrow, and beyond.

The top three candidates for acquiring Sanchez in the coming years have to be the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago White Sox with a few other teams likely to be interested. The Braves have been vocal about their desire to acquire a young catcher, making Atlanta the best landing spot for Sanchez. They have plenty of young pitching depth that they could trade from, including Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos at the major league level and Lucas Sims, Max Fried, and Touki Toussaint in the minors. While they have Christian Bethancourt, the organization must not be too confident in his abilities to trust him going forward. Their best catching prospect, Tanner Murphy, is also a few years away. That fact could get the Braves to take a chance on Sanchez's rougher edges as they wait for Murphy to mature.

It's hilarious to think that the Seattle Mariners might be open to trading for another Yankees catcher. The last time that happened it didn't end so well for them, however, their current option, Mike Zunino, has been one of the worst catchers in baseball. Their catching prospects include John Hicks, who has a .673 OPS in the Pacific Coast League, and their no. 8 prospect Tyler Marlette still needs a lot of work with the glove. Meanwhile, Seattle has pitchers like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who would make excellent returns on a position the Yankees currently have covered. After the Jesus Montero debacle, though, it might be a long shot to see these two teams pair up again in what would basically be the same deal.

The White Sox have been without a real offensive backstop for awhile now as Tyler Flowers has done a decent job holding down the fort, but the team's disappointing 2015 proves that they might need more offense for the future. Their catching prospect in Triple-A, Kevan Smith, profiles more as a backup catcher due to his problems behind the plate. Their no. 24 prospect and top catching prospect is the 19-year-old Jhoandro Alfaro in rookie ball. They could easily use an offensive upgrade behind the plate in the form of Sanchez and an open DH spot will allow them the flexibility to keep Flowers around. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Chicago doesn't have a whole lot it could offer them in return, making a deal a little less likely.

Since Joe Mauer was transitioned out from behind the plate, the Twins have been starving for another offensive catcher. They thought Kurt Suzuki was the solution, but after a solid 2014, he's mostly fallen apart in 2015. Their top catching prospect Stuart Turner has provided a sub-.600 OPS in Double-A, making it hard for them to really hope on him turning into anything important. The Twins have some really good prospects, but the Yankees aren't getting any of them for just Sanchez, so there might not be much traction in potential trade talks.

The Phillies might have some time on this with Carlos Ruiz signed in 2016 and an option for 2017, but the long-time Philadelphia backstop's offensive production has been down this year and the team could stand to get younger. They do have plenty in terms of catching prospects with Gabriel Lino in Triple-A, Andrew Knapp just reaching Double-A, and top catching prospect Deivi Grullon in Low-A, but none of them are showing much skill with the bat at the moment. If Philly loses faith in what they have and see Ruiz as a moveable piece, they could use Sanchez and still have the ability to wait on their prospects.

It seems that the Rockies could also be in line for a Gary Sanchez trade as Colorado has lost faith in Wilin Rosario and Nick Hundley is only signed through 2016. The Rockies have prospects Tom Murphy and Dom Nunez, but Murphy has yet to play in 2015 after a shoulder injury last year and Nunez is still only in Low-A. Adding Sanchez would make sense for them, but unless they're willing to give up some of their middle infield or pitching prospect depth, there's not likely too be much there that the Yankees would want.

In the end, it might be best for the Yankees to hold onto Gary Sanchez for the time being. He's not necessarily on the cusp right now, though he is close, and he can serve as injury protection for a little while before the Yankees ultimately move him for the betterment of the team. They might be better off holding onto him through July 31st, but come the offseason all bets are off and maybe they can put together a deal that will help the team longterm in an area they need a lot more help at.