New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez unsure why he was benched in the playoffs

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 3: Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees looks on during a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at Steinbrenner Field on March 3, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 3: Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees looks on during a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at Steinbrenner Field on March 3, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees catcher was not given an explanation for his playoff benching.

New York Yankees fans, please take a deep breath before reading this story. This one is a head-scratcher. During a recent interview with ESPN’s Marly Rivera, Gary Sanchez actually had the audacity to claim he was unsure why the Yankees’ coaching staff benched him during the end of the regular season and postseason last year.

"“But the reality is, they never told me why I was benched,” said Sanchez. “I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing.”"

As a gentle reminder, Sanchez endured the worst year of his six-year professional career. In 49 games, Sanchez recorded a hitting line of .147/.253/.365 with just 23 hits and 64 strikeouts. Ten of his 23 hits cleared the fence for home runs, but the 28-year-old catcher struck out 40 percent of his plate appearances.

His defense also took a step back. Sanchez led the entire league with five passed balls, and his 52 career passed balls are the most for any MLB backstop over the past five seasons.

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In all honesty, there’s always been a caveat throughout Sanchez’s career. The defense is a liability the front office was willing to overlook because of his prolific offense. He’s one of only four catchers in league history to record multiple 30-homer seasons before turning 27-years-old.

But things changed in 2020. Sanchez became a liability at the plate. It started out with Gerrit Cole preferring Kyle Higashioka to catch his games. Sanchez’s offense continued to sputter, and the Yankees couldn’t afford either of these liabilities entering the postseason. Higashioka started five of New York’s seven playoff games in 2020.

Unfortunately, the interview revealed some more troubling news for Yankees fans. According to Sanchez, the front office and coaching staff offered little to no transparency throughout the process of benching the star catcher.

"“I played the second game in Cleveland, and I played well. Then we went to San Diego, to the bubble. I didn’t play in the first game because I wasn’t catching [Gerrit] Cole,” explained Sanchez. “After almost a week without playing, it didn’t go well for me in the second game… I felt so much better. But I didn’t play. From then on, nobody told me anything. They just told me [to stay ready].”"

For the supposed starting superstar catcher, who made $5 million this season, to not be offered an explanation for his postseason benching, there’s one word to describe this: concerning. The Yankees are an organization that prides itself on professionalism, but, this is far from it.

Throughout the offseason, there’s been no shortage of rumors surrounding Sanchez’s future in New York. Many New York Yankees fans are calling for the franchise to go after J.T. Realmuto in free-agency. Still, Sanchez is here to stay, at least for the next couple of seasons.

The 28-year-old will not hit unrestricted free-agency until 2023. In the meantime, Sanchez has gone down to the Dominican League to continue getting reps and has been crushing baseballs.

It’s also only fair to offer Sanchez some sort of defense in this article. This particular backstop is not cut out for a 60-game sprint. Sanchez puts up numbers in bunches. His defense needs constant attention, work, and practice. Perhaps, this was a 60-game slump, and the shortened-season made it impossible to continually work on defense and incorporate any major adjustments.

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The pandemic-shortened campaign didn’t offer Sanchez the ability to accomplish either of these.

"“It just wasn’t me. That 2020 thing, that wasn’t me. It was a bad year. And it wasn’t a year; it was 60 days. Manny Ramirez once told me that players like us make their season in two months,” said Sanchez."