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2020 Offseason

Catcher Gary Sánchez could be interesting trade target for Phils

Could New York Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez be a potential trade candidate? (Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, N.J., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Philadelphia Phillies front office may have to get creative if managing partner John Middleton is not willing to do what it takes to retain superstar catcher J.T. Realmuto.

In looking for a catcher to replace him, two-time All-Star Gary Sánchez could be an intriguing trade option if the Phillies don’t re-sign Realmuto in free agency this offseason.

Sánchez entered the majors with the New York Yankees as a true power-hitting threat at the catcher position from the get-go, but his recent offensive struggles caused his team to look at different options down the stretch this year. The Yankees may be ready to move on from Sánchez, which could make him a prime bounce-back candidate for whichever team could acquire him in a trade.

The 27-year-old Sánchez hit just .147 with an OPS of .618 in 49 games this past season. His team opted to start catcher Kyle Higoshioka for much of its postseason run due to Sánchez’s lack of offensive production. Still, Sánchez was able to hit 10 home runs in the shortened season, providing some pop at the very least. He also ranked in the top 11% in exit velocity, hard-hit percentage and barrel percentage, according to Statcast.

Sánchez had been highly productive at the plate in his first four full seasons in the major leagues from 2016-2019, even with a down 2018 season. He averaged 26 home runs over 92 games with an OPS of .847 in that stretch. There is enough of a track record to believe that Sánchez could very well return being that kind of hitter if he can continue to hit the ball hard like he did in 2020.

There have been some concerns about Sánchez’s defense behind the plate, but the reality is that the catcher has only posted one season — 2019 — with a negative defensive WAR, according to Fangraphs. Defense has never been his calling card, but Sánchez has proved to be a passable defender for most of his career. Perhaps his defense could even be improved if given the chance to work with the coaching staff in Philadelphia that has seen defensive improvements to players such as Realmuto, Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp under it.

Of course, keeping Realmuto would be the best move the Phillies can make at the catcher position — he is the best catcher in the sport at the moment. However, if the team will not give Realmuto the contract it would take to do so, Sánchez could end up being a solid replacement for the last two years of arbitration he has remaining.

His value on the trade market is likely as low as ever, but there is still a valuable player in there somewhere. Sánchez certainly has the tools to be one of the better catchers in baseball once again, and Philadelphia could be the spot he returns to that stature if the team is willing to give him a chance.


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