SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Had Brian Cashman so desired, he professed on Wednesday, he could have sold Gary Sanchez a year ago easier than a Disney+ subscription to a Star Wars nerd.
And given that Sanchez enjoyed a rebound 2019, the Yankees general manager reiterated, he sure as heck won’t give up on him now.
“I think we have a distinct advantage by having Gary Sanchez as our everyday catcher,” Cashman said at the GM meetings. “And I know many in the industry feel the same way by their attempts last year, these extremely smart teams trying to see if they can get their hands on him. They’re not going to ask this year because everybody saw the numbers behind the numbers from last year and they know what he’s capable of. They know he’s a huge difference-maker being able to run him out there behind the plate.”
Asked which “extremely smart” clubs pitched for Sanchez in the wake of his woeful 2018, when he hit .186/.291/.406 and led the major leagues with 18 passed balls in 76 games behind the plate, Cashman said, “Playoff clubs, clubs that you guys would write highly about as really tremendous organizations, would be knocking on our door for Gary Sanchez. The answer was no, and I thought his season basically played out as an exclamation point of, we were right on that one. There’s no difference there. Same answer today as last year, other than the numbers support it even more.”
In 2019, Sanchez hit .232/.316/.525 in 106 games, cutting down his passed balls to seven in 90 games. He did, however, falter in the playoffs, going .129/.250/.226 in nine games and struggling defensively. He had missed over two weeks in September with a left groin injury.
Asked what he thought happened to Sanchez in October, Cashman said, “Could be rust. It could be opposing pitchers. It could be all of the above. Sample size. Overall, he had a fantastic season.”