The Yankees have made it clear that Gary Sanchez is on the trading block this offseason.
If the Phillies miss out on J.T. Realmuto, Sanchez could be their best option.

Before I go any further, I’d like to make two things clear:

  1. Re-signing J.T. Realmuto should be the Phillies’ top priority. If anyone else is the starting catcher on opening day 2021, I will be upset. 
  2. The Phillies need to make a move so that Andrew Knapp is not the starting catcher next year. Unfortunately, if Realmuto doesn’t come back, this option is quite likely.

I wish I didn’t have to entertain the possibility that anyone other than J.T. will be catching for the Phils next year. However, the Phillies need to do their due diligence and consider other options, so that if Realmuto signs elsewhere, they aren’t left with Andrew Knapp as their starting catcher. (I’m sorry Andrew, you seem like a really nice guy!)

After J.T. Realmuto, the next best free-agent catcher is James McCann, who I wrote about here. For what it’s worth, MLB Trades Rumors predicts that McCann will sign with the Phillies for two years and $20 million. After McCann, the free-agent market gets a lot thinner. There are plenty of options, but none of them are too tantalizing (Robinson Chirinos, Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina, etc.) There’s also a very good chance that by the time Realmuto signs, many of the other free agent catchers will already be off the board. While Realmuto will be holding out for a mega-deal, a guy like James McCann will probably pounce on the first good offer.

That’s why Gary Sanchez is such an intriguing possibility. The Yankees are reported to be big players for J.T. Realmuto as well. If they are considering trading Sanchez, chances are that they’ll wait until after they’ve signed Realmuto to do so. This means that the Phillies can take their time and make their best offer to Realmuto, but if he ends up signing with the Yankees, then the Phillies can pivot and make an offer for Sanchez.  

Photo: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports

Gary Sanchez is a very flawed player, and the drop-off from Realmuto to Sanchez is steep. It’s also worth noting that many analysts believe Sanchez’s disastrous 2020 season is the start of a genuine decline. On the other hand, Sanchez was an All-Star as recently as 2019, and over the past five years, he has an 11.3 fWAR and a 10.7 bWAR. The only bad season of his career was last year, and if there’s any year we can write off as a fluke, it should be 2020. Besides, Sanchez is only 27. He’s far too young for us to be seriously discussing his decline.

Another big factor is that Sanchez will only make about $6 million next season. That price is a steal for a catcher with Sanchez’s upside, and it would help the Phillies to make other additions while still reducing their payroll. Sanchez isn’t perfect, but he’s an inexpensive upgrade over Andrew Knapp, and he has All-Star potential.

So, what would this trade cost the Phillies?

Photo: Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Yankees do not have the upper hand here. Gary Sanchez is coming off a career-worst year and the team has already expressed that they’d like to get rid of him. My guess is that the Phillies would have to send over one high-upside player from the low minors and another top-20 prospect to make this deal happen. One possible offer is Jamari Baylor and Rafael Marchan

Another interesting option could be to swap Gary Sanchez for Scott Kingery, straight up. Kingery and Sanchez are both talented young players who struggled last season, and they’re both under team control for at least the next two years. If the Yankees don’t re-sign D.J. LeMahieu, they’ll need someone with Kingery’s defensive versatility to replace him in the infield. I personally wouldn’t make this trade, since I want Kingery on the 2021 Phillies, but it’s interesting to consider.

What would you offer for Gary Sanchez?

Featured Image: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
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