Cashman Officially Tabs Sanchez as 2017 Starting Catcher

After exploding onto the scene in August, Gary Sanchez will be the starting catcher for the Yankees in 2017, Brian Cashman announced Sunday. 

In what was more of a formality than a ground-breaking announcement, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman officially endorsed Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher for the 2017 season on Sunday. The announcement only fuels the growing speculation that veteran Brian McCann and his $34 million contract will be shipped off. However, a few obstacles stand in the way of a potential deal.

For one, McCann has a full no-trade clause, meaning any trade needs to be approved by him. At the time of publication, no public comments from McCann or his agent had any indication as to what they will decide if a trade were to be on the table. Atlanta, which is a rumored destination, is just an hour outside of McCann’s hometown, and the organization that drafted him as an 18-year-old high-schooler. McCann also spent the first nine years of his MLB career with the Braves.

Secondly, McCann is owed $34 million over the next two years, with a vesting option for $15 million in 2019. Atlanta, the perceived front-runner for McCann, is in a full rebuilding mode and seemingly would be reluctant to add an aging veteran that is owed so much money.

To make the deal work, the Yankees will have to eat a significant portion of his contract. With a large budget and a thin free-agent class, the Yankees are unlikely to make a huge splash this winter, giving them the necessary space to eat some of the contract. However, with recent rumors tying the Yankees to Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista and Aroldis Chapman, that available money may start to dwindle.

Lastly, McCann’s age has to be a concern for teams. McCann will turn 33 in February, and has already caught 1,372 games. Since 2006, McCann has appeared in at least 102 games every year, and has never caught less than 92 in a given year. That kind of wear and tear leaves his body susceptible to a breakdown. Realistically, how often can McCann’s new team expect to pencil him in to the lineup?

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What can the Yankees Expect in Return? 

Recent reports have surfaced that the Braves feel that the Yankees asking price of Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz is far too steep. But, since the Braves were had the seventh-lowest payroll in the MLB last year, they most likely will be unwilling to take on McCann’s full contract, forcing the Yankees to eat a lot of money, and therefore driving the return price up.

Cashman’s desire for Inciarte is a little confusing, seeing that Jacoby Ellsbury is under contract until 2021, and Brett Gardner is coming off a Gold Glove winning season. If the plan is to move Inciarte to right field, then that would give the Yankees three soft-hitting, lefty outfielders, and possibly hamper the development of Aaron Judge. Unless Cashman has something else in the works, acquiring Inciarte will be a head-scratcher for the fan base.

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