With Yadier Molina a free agent, the St. Louis Cardinals have uncertainty at the catcher position. Is New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez a fit?
The St. Louis Cardinals will have to make some tough decisions this offseason. One of those decisions is whether or not to bring back Yadier Molina. Under normal circumstances bringing back their franchise player is a no-brainer move, however with the team likely to cut payroll for 2021 they could elect to allow Molina to walk.
In the event that Molina does walk, what do the Cardinals do at the catcher position? The obvious move would be to turn the reigns over to Andrew Knizner. The Cardinals are in need of offense and could get creative to fill their needs. With that said, would Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez be a possible fit?
The New York Yankees have emerged as a suitor for Yadier Molina, along with a handful of other teams. If the Yankees do sign Molina, that could make their current catcher expendable on the trade market. Indeed, a new report says the Yankees are willing to listen to offers for Sanchez.
Sanchez is a great player and has tremendous home run power. Personally, I think it would be fun to see him in St. Louis Cardinals red. But ultimately I don’t think he’s a fit.
First, I think there is still a real chance that Molina stays with the Cardinals. I think things are trending in the direction of him leaving, though. But even if he does depart in free agency, I think the Cardinals give Knizner a good look.
One way that Sanchez makes sense is if the Cardinals are unsuccessful in adding offense via other avenues. If they lose Molina and can’t find a way to add hitting, Sanchez suddenly becomes very appealing in that he would fill the void at catcher and also add a power bat to a lineup that desperately needs it.
On the surface though, this doesn’t seem like a great fit to me. I think there are other options to improve the offense and if the Yankees don’t sign Molina or add another catcher it’s likely they lack the incentive to deal Sanchez.
Another hurdle could be the asking price. He’s not a free agent until 2023 so he has a few years of control. What would the Yankees want in return? I just don’t see the Cardinals looking at this option. They will probably prioritize keeping Molina but if they are not able to do so, I think they pocket the savings (Molina’s expiring contract paid him $20 million in 2020) and go with the internal option.
That makes sense. Looking deeper at Gary Sanchez’s numbers, it’s clear he has power but the batting average fell to .147 in 2020 and he put up -0.5 WAR. His 10 home runs would have led the Cardinals, however. It’s also true that batting average doesn’t tell the whole story.
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That is the appeal of Sanchez for the St. Louis Cardinals. Power, power, power. If the asking price is reasonable and Yadier Molina departs as a free agent, it’s worth exploring. But a lot of dominos would need to fall first for me to seriously look at this as a possibility.
The Cardinals need power, there’s no doubt about that. Their outfield production has been among the worst in baseball the last few seasons. That would be the first place to look, in my view. I’ve also said that I think the Cardinals really need more than one bat, so there are other areas they can look to add offense as well.
Gary Sanchez’s 2016 and 2017 seasons were fantastic and placed him among the elite at the catcher position. Since that time, though, his average has dropped and so did the rest of his production in 2018. Although, he did hit 34 home runs and was an All-Star in 2019. The talent is there and so is the appeal. He’s a great player and would instantly be the best power hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals. Ultimately, he’s an impact player but not the direction the Cardinals will likely go.
In conclusion, Sanchez is a legit power bat but I have doubts that he would be a fit for the Cardinals. Molina would have to depart, the efforts to acquire offense would have to come up relatively empty, and the Yankees would have to be motivated to trade off their catcher in order for the stars to align enough for this to make sense for the Cardinals. It’s the offseason and anything can happen, but I don’t see the fit.