Spring Training is almost over and the Yankees still have not decided on who will fill the role of backup catcher for the 2016 season. Gary Sanchez came into the spring with the job being his to lose, and he did after hitting just .048 in 13 games.
Sanchez being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yesterday was one of the best things that could have been done for him. Fans might look at the fact that him starting in the minors pushes back his service time clock as a good reason for the move but those in baseball see it as an opportunity for the young backstop to get regular playing time and continue to improve his defense.
Gary only has 35 games experience in Triple-A, which is not a lot. Though he might not need the extra time the situation the Yankees are in with Brian McCann at the MLB level as the everyday catcher would limit the amount of reps he would get. Having him start with the RailRiders allows Sanchez to stay in shape as a regular everyday catch and jump into the role at the MLB level if McCann was to go down with an unexpected injury.
Gary is also shaping up to possibly be the Yankees starting catcher of tomorrow and getting regular reps in Triple-A will help keep him in shape to be that. Think of it like this, in 2016 Sanchez can spend the first half of the season in Triple-A getting regular reps and then come up mid-season to split catching duties with McCann.
It would allow McCann to get rest and Sanchez to ease into the role. In 2017 you have them split time the whole year before Sanchez can finally take over full time in 2018 at the everyday Yankees catcher at 25-years old.
This situation is a long-term option, seeing Sanchez take over full-time catching duties in 2018 at a time when the Yankees should be younger and healthier than ever. I cannot say this is the Yankees thought process for the young backstop but it is one situation I would not mind seeing play out.