Gary Sanchez had an outstanding two months in the majors this season and should finish first or second in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 53 games this season (201 at-bats), Sanchez hit .299 with 20 homers, 42 RBI, 12 doubles, an outstanding 1.032 on-base plus slugging percentage and had a solid 41 percent caught stealing percentage.
He will rightfully go into spring training as the everyday catcher and the league will get to see what kind of power numbers Sanchez will be able to produce after playing the whole season. Even though Sanchez, who has greatly improved defensively this season than in the last few in the minors, is now the starting catcher and not Brian McCann, the Yankees still should not trade away McCann in the offseason.
“Listen,” McCann said. “Gary is the starting catcher here. He’s going to be that for a long, long time. Just have to kind of see where my role fits in; see where everything fits.”
McCann can have value for the Yankees next season as a mentor for Sanchez, as the designated hitter since he still has power and as the backup catcher. He could be CC Sabathia‘s primary catcher.
Sabathia credits McCann for helping him adjust as a pitcher. He really improved this season with his improved cutter (with some help from Andy Pettitte) as he had a solid 3.91 ERA, made an impressive 30 starts for the 12th time in his career and had 152 strikeouts. The last time before this season that the six-time All-Star and 2007 Cy Young winner had an ERA below 4.00 was in 2012 when it was 3.38. In 2015, Sabathia made 29 starts, but had a much higher 4.73 ERA and a 1.422 WHIP.
Defensive shifts have caused McCann’s average to be lower than it was earlier in his career when he hit .270 or above ever season from 2005-2011, but McCann still hits for power as this season was his ninth consecutive season that he has slugged at least 20 homers. In 2016, he had a .242 average with 13 doubles, 20 homers, 58 RBI, a .413 slugging percentage and a .335 on-base percentage. He also had a .995 fielding percentage and had a 23 percent caught stealing percentage.
In 2015, the seven-time All-Star, won his sixth Silver Slugger award as he hits 26 homers and tied his career-high with 94 Runs Batted In. If he is primarily the designated hitter that could help him have similar power numbers as he did in 2015.
McCann, who will be 33 in February, is capable of throwing out a greater percentage of base stealers since in 2015 he threw out 36 percent and in 2014 he threw out an even better 37 percent of base stealers. He still has value behind the plate because he knows the pitchers and what they like to throw, which means that he should catch occasionally.
He has two more years left on his contract at $17 million per year, which means that Brian Cashman might not get that much in return for him. He might be due for even better power numbers next year based on how well he hit at the end of the season. McCann had a .266 average in September, which was better than any average he had in any previous month of the season. In September combined with two games in October, he hit four of his 20 homers, drove in seven of his 58 runs and finished the season with five hits in 12 at-bats with a homer.
The 32-year-old from Georgia is one of only four players to ever hit 20 homers in 10 different seasons in which his primary position was catcher. The others were Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza. Pizza is regarded as the best hitting catcher of all time. His left-handed swing is made for Yankee Stadium, and since he wants to return it would make sense for him to spend 2017 playing his home games in the Bronx again. There were rumors about McCann being traded back to the Braves in July but the Yankees would really have to be blown away with major league ready talent to trade him in the offseason.
“I hope I’m back,” McCann said. “I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out, but the future is extremely bright here. … I love it here. I love everything about it. Bright future. And I hope I’m a part of it.”
The Yankees could even trade him before the trade deadline if they are in they are in the race for the division or wild card, which they should be, and he could help them improve at another position of need.