Yankees' Aaron Boone defends maligned Gary Sanchez: 'I think he’s been unfairly criticized a lot'

Scott Thompson
·2 min read
Gary Sanchez dejected after striking out
Gary Sanchez dejected after striking out

After struggling mightily in the shortened season in 2020, Yankees C Gary Sanchez received a lot of harsh criticism. He hit well below the Mendoza line and was eventually replaced by Kyle Higashioka in the postseason because he wasn't a reliable option behind the dish. 

But manager Aaron Boone, who was the one defending his catcher throughout the year, believes the criticism is a bit overboard. 

"I think he's been unfairly criticized a lot," Boone told YES Network's Meredith Marakovits on Monday. "I think at times it's over the top and people are blinded by some of the things that he’s done really well."

Boone admitted that it was "certainly a challenging year" for the veteran catcher, who slashed .147/.253/.365 in 2020. He was consistently whiffing at pitches in the middle of the plate, and it didn't help matters that his defensive skills -- a knock on his game well before his bat began to struggle -- didn't improve. 

In fact, the Yankees have a very big decision to make as the non-tender deadline is approaching quickly. GM Brian Cashman, who said Sanchez's poor performance now forces the Yankees to reevaluate at the position, will need to decide whether to tender him a deal given his arbitration status or let him walk into free agency with a non-tender. 

"We understand that Gary is a major talent and while he struggled in certain areas, he’s also made amazing strides in certain areas," Boone explained. "Like with all our players, it’s important that we continue to develop (Sanchez) to be the player that so many of us believe he can be.”

Reading into that comment from Boone, one would think the Yankees tender a contract and continue to try to fix whatever is ailing Sanchez's game. When he was a rookie, he proved to everyone why he got so much hype while working up through the minors. 

But with other catching options out there on the market, as well as Higashioka proving to be a defensive stud behind the dish, Sanchez's status with the Yankees is up in the air. 

Cashman and the Yankees have until Dec. 2 to tender a contract to Sanchez.