NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)The Yankees are young, but if all goes well, they could still be a serious contender in 2017, general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday.

“I think we saw of glimpse of potential last year,” Cashman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. ” … The young kids, along with the remaining veterans, came together and really took a shot at it, and we felt short. But that gives us great hope going into this year.”

The face of the Yankees’ youth movement, Gary Sanchez, last year hit home runs at a pace that few believe he can replicate this season. So what is a reasonable expectation when it comes to the catcher’s production?

“That’s the big question,” the GM said. “The only way, on my end, to comfortably answer that is as long he’s healthy and stays healthy … his tool package is always projected to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat and above-average defensive player. So I’m looking forward to the 162 games and seeing what it looks like.”

In 53 games as a rookie, Sanchez batted .299 with 20 home runs and 42 RBIs. The offensive outburst took many, including those in the Yankees organization, by surprise.

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“Somebody had mentioned to me at some point during the season that they think he’s just bored at Triple-A,” Cashman recalled. “He’s been here, done that, and he’s knocked these guys around a little bit and now he’s just settling in, and he was blocked at the big-league level. And obviously once he got to the major leagues and the bigger ballparks and all that stuff and the crowds that you’re not used to seeing, it was like, man, he just had fun. And it played out every day.”

When asked about which role power-hitting first baseman Chris Carter, who agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal this week, will play, Cashman said he will give manager Joe Girardi another option when the Yankees face left-handed pitching and provide insurance if Greg Bird, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, struggles. Cashman added, though, that he hopes Bird will win the starting job.

Francesa also asked Cashman if there was any chance top prospect Gleyber Torres could make the Opening Day roster with a strong spring training. Cashman seemed skeptical that the 20-year-old shortstop would play in the majors at all this season. Torres is expected to start the year in Double-A, and Cashman hopes he will be in Triple-A before the season is over.

Yankees pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training Tuesday.

To listen to the interview with Cashman, click on the audio player above.


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