After deal, Yankees better be sure Gary Sanchez is for real

The Yankees must really believe that Gary Sanchez is it, considering Thursday’s trade of Brian McCann. There’s no safety net now for The Kraken, no sage veteran standing by in case Sanchez goes all Kevin Maas on us or struggles to adjust to pitchers who have had a winter to adapt.

It probably all works out fine — Sanchez has that much talent. Folks around the game believe that his two-month tear last season, while probably not the norm, is an indication of what he can do. He’s probably not going to be on a 61-home run pace, though, especially with the wear and tear of a full season in gear. But he’s an electric threat and probably the most fascinating thing about the Yanks’ 2017 season. His every at-bat will be must-see TV.

But let’s not pretend there’s no risk with this deal. The Yankees better be right about Sanchez or they’ll have to worry about a position that was covered for at least the next two seasons while McCann was still on the roster. This from an organization that has had — and parted with — a ridiculous amount of catching depth over the past few years (See: Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and Russell Martin).

Still, Sanchez has some growing to do, even after slugging 20 homers in 201 at-bats and notching an OPS of 1.032. Sanchez, who turns 24 next month, is hardly a finished product behind the plate, though he’s got arm strength for days.

He’s also yet to be fully immersed in the trappings of big-town stardom. He was a sensation last year, no doubt. Now, he’s basically the face of the Yankees, the player with a ton of hopes pinned to his pinstripes. Does that change him? It’s happened to others.

He’s had some growing up to do and the Yankees believe he’s matured. Now’s his chance to show that.

The move freed up some pinstriped cash — wow, funny concept to wrap your head around, the Yanks freeing up money instead of spending it — and GM Brian Cashman said Thursday after the deal that it would give the Yanks more choices in both the free-agent and trade market. All good things. Cashman said he’ll explore the market for a designated hitter — McCann was going to be the backup catcher and lefty DH had he stayed — or other positions.

Brian McCann was going to be Gary Sanchez’s backup and also see some time at DH in 2017.

Brian McCann was going to be Gary Sanchez’s backup and also see some time at DH in 2017.

( Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

As Cashman put it, “We’re going to continue to pursue pitching as well as offense now.”

We’ll see how it turns out. The Yanks have been good about dealing from strength in recent years and maybe that’s what this is, coupled with McCann’s desire to still catch every day.

The Yankees, for a change, are a young team — another funny concept, considering the club we’re talking about — and young teams can bloom together quickly, especially if the right veteran additions are made. That’s why the Cubs look like a present and future force.

The Yanks would love to have that, too. That’s what all of Cashman’s talk about an “uber team” was about. If that ever becomes a reality, Sanchez likely will be right in the middle of it, one of the biggest factors. But, even with that, and the season he had and what appears to be a rosy future, he’s still got lots to prove.

There are challenges still ahead for Sanchez. That’s just how the game is. Now there’s no safety net.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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