The Yankees have spent the early phases of the offseason hunting down starting pitching. They landed James Paxton before Thanksgiving, and today they hosted Patrick Corbin for a tour of Yankee Stadium. Pitching, pitching, and more pitching — that’s been the focus of the hot stove to date.
As it turns out, the team may have other ideas in mind. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are among a group of teams to engage the Marlins in trade talks for catcher J.T. Realmuto. Interestingly enough, the Bombers seem prepared to move Gary Sanchez in such a deal. The hangup apparently comes down to additional prospects.
“The issue with the Yankees’ talks apparently is that they still hold Gary Sanchez in high enough regard that they have resisted offering other top pieces in a package with Sanchez. The Marlins, who are run by ex-Yankee types (Derek Jeter, Gary Denbo) seem to like Sanchez as well but are hoping for a major package for Realmuto.”
Earlier this month, Kenny Crocker explored the idea of a catcher swap with Miami. He ultimately found out that such a move doesn’t make sense. Three weeks later, and it still doesn’t sound like a good idea.
Sanchez, 25, is two years younger than Realmuto, and comes with two additional seasons of team control. While Sanchez struggled at the plate in 2018, he is on par, if not a better hitter than Realmuto. The Kraken’s 2017 campaign resulted in a .278/.345/.531 triple-slash, 33 home runs, and a 129 wRC+. How did Realmuto hit in his breakout 2018 season? His .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs (126 wRC+) is basically a healthy Sanchez.
Why would the Bombers make this move? Maybe they’re afraid of the shoulder surgery that Sanchez just had. If that was the case, though, why would the Marlins want him? Plus, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Sanchez is younger and controllable. Wouldn’t the Marlins have to kick in additional pieces to make this work? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
There have long been concerns about Sanchez’s ability to stay behind the plate, but the data shows he isn’t that bad! On the defensive front, Realmuto has the edge in blocking. Otherwise, he’s a poor framer. Sanchez is vastly superior according to StatCorner’s +Call mark. This sounds like an awful lot of trouble for a few passed balls, doesn’t it?
Maybe this was just due diligence. Teams do these sort of explorations all the time. If the Yankees do seriously think about moving Sanchez and prospects for Realmuto, though, then I don’t know how that would help the club.