Gary Sanchez has supplanted Brian McCann as the Yankees’ everyday catcher much sooner than anyone could have anticipated. Sanchez hit 11 home runs in his first 23 games; the quickest a batter has ever reached that milestone. He’s also thrown out six runners attempting to steal while letting just three get by, so Sanchez has been a valuable defensive asset as well. All of this has led to speculation that McCann’s tenure with the Bombers might come to a premature end, and his second-half slump has done nothing to dispel those rumors. But the Yankees cutting ties with McCann any time soon is a far-fetched scenario.
McCann is still an integral member of the Yankees. Brian Cashman said so himself in a recent interview with the New York Post.
“[McCann and Sanchez] are our best two catchers by far, and our best team has both on the field,” Cashman said. “We have two catchers who hit from the opposite side, and that has a lot of value for us. I would venture to guess that Sanchez/McCann would be the top catcher tandem in the game. McCann has struggled in the second half, but he was a borderline All-Star this year. So as far as I am concerned, he has a lot of value to us, let alone anyone else.
Cashman said that mainly to fend off reporters linking McCann in a trade to the Atlanta Braves, who were thought to be interested in a reunion with their former backstop after he cleared waivers.
As Cashman alluded to, McCann’s value lies mainly in his left-handedness. With Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira all out of the picture in 2017, there’s suddenly a dearth of left-handed power bats on the Yankees’ roster. Greg Bird could return at first base, but it remains to be seen how his shoulder surgery will affect his home run-hitting ability. Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, whom the Bombers called up earlier this year, are both righties. And Clint Frazier, who’s due for a call-up from Triple-A, is also right-handed.
With the sudden influx of young talent, having a veteran like McCann in the clubhouse for leadership purposes wouldn’t hurt.
McCann has been the DH for most of August, but he could see more playing time at first base in the days ahead and in 2017. Girardi has already asked the 32-year-old catcher to take more grounders at first base to “give us options,” but Girardi was non-committal when asked about McCann potentially being the primary man at first base.
“That’s probably a discussion to have over the winter,” Girardi told NJ.com. “That’s not something we’ve talked about. I’m focused on this year. Next year is a long way away.”
Assuming the Yankees choose Sanchez and McCann as their two catchers for next year, that puts Austin Romine in a tricky spot. He’ll have no more options after this year, meaning he’ll be subject to the waiver system should the Yankees demote him. That will likely force Cashman to deal Romine in the offseason.