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Yankees tender contract to Gary Sanchez

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez runs on his two-run

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez runs on his two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers in an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

A rival manager spoke on Monday about the overall state of catching in the big leagues.

"Horse [expletive], more or less," he said by phone. "If you have it, you’re certainly not looking to [get rid] of it."

And it was with that reality very much in mind that the Yankees chose to tender Gary Sanchez a contract before Tuesday’s 8 p.m. deadline, the club announced.

Because as much of a lightning rod as Sanchez is among Yankees fans, he is an established big-league catcher, warts and all.

The club also tendered Luke Voit, whom general manager Brian Cashman unsuccessfully tried to trade in July after acquiring first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The Yankees also agreed to one-year terms with Lucas Luetge, Domingo German and Gio Urshela.

But the buzz Tuesday was about Sanchez, the possible end of his time with the Yankees and, of course, the continued fan anger directed at the club which, as of Tuesday night, had not done much when compared with the Mets in advance of the lockout that is to begin if a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

There was plenty of speculation from the time the season ended in the American League wild-card game at Fenway Park that the Yankees might be ready to move on from Sanchez, who signed with them out of the Dominican Republic for roughly $3 million at the age of 16 in 2009.

That was the start of a roller-coaster ride of a career with the franchise, one that so far has included him twice being suspended in the minors; an electric latter part of 2016 when he was recalled Aug. 3 and proceeded to hit 20 homers in 167 at-bats; All-Star appearances in 2017 and 2019 and – generally speaking – lousy seasons in 2020 and 2021.

Cashman has long been Sanchez’s most consistent and fervent supporter in the organization, but that has slowly waned after the last couple of seasons.

"We’ll see," Cashman said in his end-of-season news conference about Sanchez being the starter next season. Sanchez made $6.35 million last season and is due to become a free agent after 2022.

Compare that with his answer to the same question at the 2019 GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, when he said, "Oh, yeah."

"I think we have a distinct advantage by having Gary Sanchez as our every day catcher," Cashman said then.

The long-time GM, however, equivocated last offseason when it came to Sanchez – whose defensive issues have been well-documented, though he hasn’t always been credited for some of the improvements, such as game-calling.

"As of right now, Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka are our [catchers] unless we run into something that we feel can upgrade that and make it better," Cashman said this month. "We are obviously having conversations to see if there’s options. Catching is a very thin market. It was last year, and I can say it looks like it’s that way this year again. But it doesn’t preclude us from exploring potential options that exists out there. And if not, we’ll go back with what we have."

That is the case for now, though tendering Sanchez a contract doesn’t preclude the Yankees from making a deal for a catcher or trading Sanchez, or Higashioka for that matter.

Frazier to Cubs

Outfielder Clint Frazier, a one-time top prospect in the sport DFA’d recently by the Yankees – who made him the centerpiece of their 2016 Andrew Miller deadline deal with Cleveland, agreed to a one-year major-league deal Wednesday with the Cubs. Frazier, 27, hit .239 with 29 homers and a .633 OPS over five mostly disappointing seasons with the Yankees.

New York Sports