Palladino: Gary Sanchez Must Remain On Brian Cashman’s Untouchables List In Any Trade Talks For Pitcher

Ernie Palladino
June 15, 2018 - 9:40 am
Gary Sanchez

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The Yankees need more arms. That’s not hard to see.

With Jordan Montgomery out for the season and Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list with two strained hamstrings, the starting rotation obviously has its holes. So general manager Brian Cashman is going to have to do some trade magic in the very near future unless he feels Domingo German and Double-A meteor Jonathan Loaisiga, who makes his major league debut Friday against the Rays, can take this winning team all the way to October.

That’s unlikely, about as improbable as the 23-year-old Loaisiga’s rise from Single-A Staten Island last season, two years removed from Tommy John surgery, to his vaulting past Justus Sheffield and David Hale as Tanaka’s fill-in.

So the trade magic must happen. But if Cashman bends to the current noise that encourages him to use Gary Sanchez as the rabbit to lure a veteran arm such as the Rangers’ Cole Hamels, the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ or -- and here’s the longest of long shots -- Mets ace Jacob deGrom, he’d be making a huge mistake.

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Not that packaging a Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres would sit any better with fans who currently revel in their game-winning hits, but Sanchez is way too valuable to give up. Of all the Yankees sluggers right now, he should sit right there with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius among Cashman’s untouchables.

Sure, one can look at Sanchez's anemic .188 batting average that at least partially explained manager Aaron Boone’s decision to sit him out for both games against the Nationals this week. Boone put forth the wear and tear of the season as his main reason, but anyone who has watched Sanchez at the plate realized that a three-day vacation could only benefit him until he finds his way and becomes the slugging catcher the Yanks brought up for good in 2016.

You know. The guy who has belted 65 homers and driven in 167 runs since. The guy who earned himself a Silver Slugger award as the AL's best-hitting catcher with 33 homers, 90 RBIs and a .278 batting average.

Even now, he ranks second among major league catchers in homers (12), third in RBIs (35) and first in walks (30).

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Talk all you want about the great job Austin Romine has done as the lineup waits for Sanchez’s bat to awaken. He has done quite the job in his 24 games. The pitchers like him. He doesn’t have to run to the backstop every time somebody bounces a breaking pitch, as Sanchez has done a league-leading nine times already, one year after he led the league with 16 passed balls.

There’s no arguing with Romine's hitting, either -- .329, four homers, 20 RBIs.

But Romine has never been anything but a backup. If he continues his current success, he’ll probably get his shot as a regular starter somewhere, but he’ll probably go as a free agent. Or perhaps as one of the pieces Cashman will dangle for that starting arm.

Sanchez must stay, though.

Underline "must."

The organization has put too much work into him to watch that bat liven up in some other city.

If Sheffield is such a prize, then package him. He obviously wouldn’t bring a Madison Bumgarner over from the Giants by himself, and Cashman would probably have to wave a Torres or Andujar at them to even whet the Mets’ interest in trading deGrom, or even Noah Syndergaard, to their crosstown rival.

But in order to get quality, one must give up quality. It’s the same old formula. And let’s face it, Brandon Drury just isn’t going to get it done on the trade market. Certainly not for an ace. Not for a back-of-the-rotation guy, either.

For now, it’s German and, depending on how he makes out in his major league unveiling Friday, Loaisiga.

We’ll see which rabbit Cashman pulls out of the hat to find that permanent arm.

Just as long as it’s not Sanchez.   

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino