The 2015 season continues to be the year of the prospect as many top minor leaguers have already made their major league debut and others inch one step closer to that eventuality. The Yankees have announced that catching prospect Gary Sanchez will be promoted to Triple-A Scranton in order to replace the injured Austin Romine, making him one step closer to his big league debut.
Sanchez has hit .262/.319/.476 with 12 home runs in his second year at Double-A Trenton, putting up similar, and even slightly superior, numbers than last season in only half the time. He's received mixed reviews about his catching abilities behind the plate over the last few years, with some believing he can be a regular at the position and others saying he'll never make it work. He will replace once-top prospect Romine, who suffered a thumb injury last night, propelling him up to Triple-A sooner than the organization had likely hoped. Sanchez has hit .304/.360/.696 in the month of July, which is the prospect they have been waiting for him to turn into for awhile now, so maybe it's only a matter of time before he's ready for the next step.
The only problem is that Brian McCann is under contract through 2018 with an option for 2019, meaning that Sanchez might not have anywhere to go for a few more years. The presence of John Ryan Murphy, who the Yankees preferred enough to trade Francisco Cervelli and DFA Austin Romine also gives Sanchez less of a chance to break in any time soon. The only scenario that might work is that McCann stays at catcher through 2016 and 2017, then moves to first base/DH in 2018 with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez now gone and between Murphy and Sanchez, they limit his time behind the plate enough that his vesting option for 2019 (he needs at least 90 games behind the plate) doesn't kick in and then Sanchez, who will be in his mid-20s by 2018, would be free to take over as starting catcher.
Obviously that scenario is incredibly complicated and unlikely to play out as perfectly, since it's more likely that Sanchez will be up at some point before that due to injury. What is much more likely to happen is that they use Sanchez as trade bait some time in the near future now that he's kicking on the major league door with nowhere to really go. The idea of having Sanchez in Triple-A for portions of at least three years does not seem like a good idea and will likely hurt any value he will have for any kind of theoretical trade. This is not Aaron Judge being one step closer to the majors with only Carlos Beltran in his way. Sanchez is blocked and bringing him up to Triple-A now only shows how inevitable it will be when he's finally traded for something the team needs more.