New York Yankees

Gary Sanchez must reward Yankees’ faith in him next season

The Yankees still want Gary Sanchez as their full-time catcher, but he will need to be significantly better in 2019 than he was last year.

Gary Sanchez didn’t have a good season for the New York Yankees in 2018 but they haven’t given up faith he can the player who burst on the scene in 2017.

His numbers were way, way down, to the point where it was almost stunning last year. He only appeared in 76 games due to stints on the disabled list with a groin injury. Even though he missed more than half of the season, Sanchez still led all catchers with 18 passed balls. Additionally, he only hit .186 — an incredibly disappointing average for a guy who was supposed to be one-third of New York’s power-hitting trio with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

The disappointing season from Sanchez caused a few rumors to pop up about the Yankees exploring other options at catcher. But general manager Brian Cashman shot those rumors down, saying that the Yankees still have faith in him as their guy.

“It would be hard not to have Gary Sanchez as our catcher,” Cashman said, via ESPN.com. “He’s certainly someone that we’ve invested in and believe in and expect to be a part of this place moving forward.”

It’s no surprise Cashman feels that way. Sanchez is only 26 years old, and he had a very good 2017 season. In 122 games played, he belted 33 home runs and 90 RBIs, finishing the season with a .278 average. With Sanchez, Judge and Stanton, there isn’t a lineup in Major League Baseball that features as much raw power as New York’s.

It makes sense why Cashman wouldn’t want to change that. But Sanchez will have no choice but to reward the faith in him and have a great bounce-back season in 2019. Instead of potentially adding Miami’s J.T. Realmuto to essentially tag team with Sanchez behind the plate, the Yankees have opted to stick with Sanchez as their full-time backstop — and thus the pressure will be heavily on his shoulders to come through.

This is how things work in the Bronx. The Yankees are an organization that expects to compete for World Series titles every year, and if you’re a regular in their lineup, you have to get the job done. If you fail, then you likely won’t be around much longer.

Next: It’s time for the Red Sox to extend Chris Sale

Given the tremendous potential Sanchez brings both at the plate and behind it, the Yankees aren’t ready to give up on him after one disastrous season. But 2019 has to be a great year for Sanchez; if it’s not, he might not get another chance.

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