General Manager Says Maligned Catcher Recently Had Shoulder Fixed And Should Be In Position To Have A Big Bounce-Back Season In 2019

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you think the Yankees are planning to trade Gary Sanchez, think again.

General manager Brian Cashman made it clear over the weekend he has no intentions of moving on from the slugging catcher, who is coming off a 2018 season to forget, both offensively and defensively.

“I have been asked about Gary Sanchez. He’s not for sale,” Cashman said during an interview on the YES Network that will air on Monday night.

“We’re going to be proven correct, we believe (in Sanchez),” Cashman added. “I think people saw toward the end (of the season) what Gary really is, again.”

Gary Sanchez

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez hits a solo home run to left field during Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Oct. 6, 2018 in Boston. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The sooner spring training starts, the better for Sanchez. The 26-year-old backstop took the majors by storm in 2016, hitting .299 with 20 home runs and 42 RBIs in just 53 games. He followed that up by hitting .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs the following season.

But then 2018 came along, and everything went off the rails.

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Sanchez played in just 89 regular season games due to two stints on the disabled list because of a troublesome groin injury. Though his power numbers — 18 homers and 53 RBIs — were good, Sanchez batted just .186. His defense was also atrocious as he committed 18 passed balls in just 76 games behind the plate.

He then hit .200 (3-for-15) with two homers and five RBIs in the Yankees’ four-game loss to the eventual world champion Red Sox in the AL Division Series.

Right after the Yankees were eliminated, Cashman said the Bombers were committed to Sanchez as the starter in 2018. Still, that didn’t stop the speculation that they could go in a different direction.

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Cashman, however, called a report saying the Yankees were entertaining the idea of trading Sanchez to Miami for up-and-coming J.T. Realmuto, “completely false.”

Sanchez recently had left shoulder surgery, but the procedure is not expected to force him to miss any part of spring workouts.

“Clearly, once that shoulder declared itself as a continuing problem… that probably gives us all the more insight about some things he was dealing with and contributed to the numbers being down,” Cashman said. “He’ll return healthy, ready to go, motivated to put 2018 behind him. I think he’ll have a chance to be one of the more exciting, dynamic players in 2019.”

Assuming he’s healthy, Sanchez will slot into a lineup that already features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. However, with shortstop Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery and an unsettled situation at first base, the Yankees have been mentioned prominently as a potential landing spot for big-time free agents, including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.