The Hot Stove League around Major League Baseball has yet to really get going in part because owners are crying poor after no fans were allowed in stadiums last year and it’s still not clear whether they will be in 2021 or if the season will even start on time.
Yankees May Trade Gary Sanchez | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
However, the are plenty of rumors floating around and one is that the Yankees are looking into trading former All-Star Gary Sanchez, who not that long ago looked like he might be an all-time great but has severely regressed the past few years.
In his 2016 rookie season, Sanchez was an immediate sensation in hitting 20 homers in just 53 games. In fact, he tied Wally Berger’s record for fastest player to reach 20 career long balls, needing only 50 major league appearances to accomplish the feat. Eventually, Sanchez also became the fastest catcher in Major League history — and the fastest American League player regardless of position — to collect 100 home runs. It came in Sanchez’s 355th career game; the next fastest catcher was Mike Piazza, who did it in his first 422 games while with Los Angeles. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo previously held the AL mark, reaching the milestone in 377 games.
Sanchez, though, has never been a good defensive player and is getting worse by the year. And he’s not hitting any longer, either, batting just .147 in 49 games a year ago with 64 strikeouts in 156 at-bats. By the end of the Yanks’ ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kyle Higashioka had supplanted Sanchez as Aaron Boone’s starting catcher. Sanchez is eligible for arbitration this winter and is expected to receive a small raise from the $5 million he made in 2020.
New York has been kicking the tires on free-agent catchers Yadier Molina and JT Realmuto, and signing either surely would mean trading Sanchez. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged to the media in mid-October that it is “certainly a fair question” as to whether Sanchez will still be the team’s primary starter behind the plate in 2021.
Pitchers are eating Sanchez alive with the slider – that pitch accounted for a lot of his career-high 13.8% swing-and-miss rate in 2020, the worst of his career. According to Baseball Savant, Sanchez was in the bottom two percentile of strikeout percentage and bottom 11 percentile of whiff percentage this season.
Some scouts also think Sanchez has a hard time separating his offense from his defense, so that when he makes a mistake behind the plate, that tends to carry over to his hitting, and vice versa.
The one issue with dealing Sanchez now is that his value is at his lowest. If the universal DH is approved for next season and beyond, that could help grow Sanchez’s market as that’s probably the only way a National League team would deal for him.
Josh Hader On Market?
Arguably the hardest pitcher to hit in the majors leagues the past couple of years has been Brewers fire-balling relieve Josh Hader, yet the Milwaukee Brewers are listening to offers on him. Why? Hader is getting more and more expensive and might be trending slightly downward with his stuff.
Opponents had a 12.8% BB rate against the lefty in 2020 and his 14.7 K/9 was the lowest of any full season. One of his woes was certainly linked to a dip in velocity. His fastball went down to 95 mph on average, almost a full mile per hour slower than his 2019 campaign. Now might be the peak of Hader’s trade value.
He’s due a raise from the $4.1 million he made this year in arbitration. Hader, 26, posted a 3.79 ERA with 13 saves and a 31/10 K/BB ratio over 19 innings this past season.
Milwaukee has a replacement in waiting in Rookie of the Year Devin Williams. As tantalizing as the pair would be at the tail-end of games, the Brewers have other holes to fill and a limited payroll. They had a roughly $97MM payroll in 2020, and they’re already close to that number with arbitration projections for 2021. Coming off a season with no ticket revenue, the Brewers will likely cut payroll heading into next year.
Just about every contender would be interested in Hader. Put the Philadelphia Phillies at the top of the list as their bullpen was historically bad this past season. A large-market team like Philly would have the financial capability to pay Hader over the next three years, even coming off a season with no fans.
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