The Yankees have voiced their belief that Gary Sánchez swung the bat better than his numbers indicated throughout the most frustrating season of his professional career. They are banking that the big-swinging catcher will prove them right.
Sánchez was among the players with fewer than six years of service time who were tendered contracts for the 2021 season ahead of Wednesday’s 8 p.m. ET deadline. The Yankees announced that they agreed to terms on contracts with right-handers Luis Cessa and Ben Heller, avoiding arbitration, and they have non-tendered right-hander Jonathan Holder.
The Yankees’ other arbitration-eligible players are outfielder Aaron Judge, third baseman Gio Urshela, first baseman Luke Voit, right-hander Chad Green, infielder Gleyber Torres, outfielder Clint Frazier, infielder Miguel Andújar and left-hander Jordan Montgomery. All will have the opportunity to negotiate new deals with the Yankees prior to Spring Training.
Sánchez, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday, is expected to receive a raise over the $5 million he would have earned in a typical 162-game season in 2020. Sánchez owned the lowest batting average of any Major Leaguer to hit 10 or more home runs in '20, posting a .147/.253/.365 slash line (69 OPS+) with 24 RBIs in 49 games.
He did not start in five of the Yankees’ seven postseason games, yielding duties behind the plate to backup Kyle Higashioka.
“Gary is capable of a lot,” general manager Brian Cashman said after the playoffs. “There’s no question in my mind about that. He’s as disappointed in this season as anybody, but I know he cares and he’s committed. His career will continue, no question about it, and better days will be ahead for him. I truly believe that.”
Cessa, who turns 29 in January, had no record and a 3.32 ERA in 16 appearances for New York this past season. He is 7-12 with a 4.40 ERA in 102 career games (19 starts), all with the Yankees from 2016-20.
Heller, 29, posted a 3.00 ERA in six appearances for New York this past season. He is 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in 31 appearances from 2016-17 and 2019-20, all with the Yankees.
Holder, 27, was among 59 players non-tendered across the Majors. He was 3-0 with a 4.98 ERA in 18 appearances this past season, and is 10-6 with a 4.38 ERA in 157 career appearances with the Yankees from 2016-20.