The Yankees have invested a lot in developing Gary Sánchez since signing him as a 16-year-old in 2009. Sánchez has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining with the Yankees, and his projected salary for 2022 is estimated to be a little under $8 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors. After underperforming for the third straight year, his future with the Yankees is as uncertain as it has ever been. Fans can look forward to another offseason of scintillating debate over whether or not the Yankees will decide to keep Sánchez, or move on in a different direction. That there aren’t many catching options on the free agent market makes non-tendering Sánchez less likely.
So let’s say that Brian Cashman decides to trade Sánchez and swap him out for someone new. Which teams would be interested in him? Which teams are in need of a catcher? Let’s take a look at the current catching landscape in MLB and see where potential trade partners might be.
Like the Yankees, the Marlins are looking to get better offensive production behind the plate. Earlier this month, Marlins manager Don Mattingly told the Miami Herald that the team is looking to upgrade at that position in the offseason. The only catcher on the Marlins’ 40-man roster who is a seasoned big leaguer is Jorge Alfaro. Considering Alfaro has knee issues and saw some time in left field this year, it makes sense for the team to acquire a backstop (or two) this winter.
Given Miami’s need at catcher and the team’s connections to the Yankees, the Marlins could be a logical trade partner willing to make a deal. Would Miami be able to afford Sánchez’s projected salary? Would a deal be contingent on the Yankees absorbing more of his salary than is ideal? These questions will arise if Cashman decides to make a deal with the Marlins.
Rangers general manager Chris Young recently told reporters that he plans to be quite active on the free agent market this coming winter. Although wanting to acquire free agents is a bit different than being open to trades, let’s assume that Texas is looking to upgrade in certain areas and would theoretically be open to both. In 2021, Jose Trevino and Jonah Heim split time behind the plate. The Rangers have expressed how much the team appreciates the elite defense and pitching framing of both players.
That said, Trevino and Heim’s contributions to the lineup were negligible, so it’s possible the Rangers would consider adding to their roster a third catcher who wields a stronger bat. Does Sánchez fit that description, despite his offensive struggles? Kind of. The one caveat is if they do look for a catcher, the team will probably seek out a backstop with more team team control, and Sánchez will become a free agent after the 2022 season.
Jacob Stallings has been the Pirates’ starting catcher since Francisco Cervelli departed in 2019. In addition to being a team leader, Stallings’ defense behind the dish is excellent. He is a Gold Glove finalist—and while that may not mean much these days — Stallings’ defensive numbers make him one of the best defensive catchers in MLB. At the plate, his .246/.335/.369 slash line was serviceable, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Pirates will look to add a more offensively productive catcher in the offseason. However, with one of the smallest payrolls in MLB, Pittsburgh will probably be looking for young talent to develop. Gary doesn’t fit that bill.
At the end of the day, it’s not a great trade market for Sánchez. In an ideal world, the Yankees would have traded him at his peak value, in the 2018 or 2019 offseason. If the new CBA to be negotiated contains a provision for a universal DH, there could be 15 more job openings for Gary in the National League. His offensive struggles might give trade partners pause, and there will probably be designated hitters on the market who are better and cheaper than Sánchez. With Gary, the Yankees are in a quandary, with Cashman choosing among imperfect solutions, if he chooses to trade him at all.