Aaron Boone defends Gary Sanchez: 'I think he's been unfairly criticized'

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It has been a rocky road for Gary Sanchez and his career with the Yankees. At times, he looks like the best-hitting catcher in the league, and at other times he looks completely lost at the plate and behind it.

It was more of the latter during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season that has left many wondering if Sanchez still has a future in the Bronx.

Manager Aaron Boone believes so and staunchly defended his catcher.

“I think he’s been unfairly criticized a lot,” Boone said on the YES Network Monday night. “I think at times it’s over the top and people are blinded by some of the things that he’s done really well.”

It’s been hard to find some of those things he’s done well over the last season. Sanchez hit an anemic .147/.253/.365 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI in 49 games. Behind the plate, Sanchez had five errors and five passed balls while throwing out five of 19 attempted base stealers.

Boone admitted that it was “certainly a challenging year” for Sanchez, who was essentially benched during the ALDS in favor of Kyle Higashioka. The 27-year-old veteran catcher has struggled to find consistency since his All-Star 2017 season in which he hit 33 home runs and drove in 90 runs with an on-base percentage of .345.

In 2018, Sanchez struggled at the plate and with injuries, playing in just 89 games that season.

Sanchez’s 2019 numbers as a whole were good, however, he struggled with consistency and injuries that season, too, despite a career-high 34 home runs – 24 of which came in the first half of the season.

The Yankees have reportedly been toeing the waters of the catcher market and listening to offers for Sanchez himself, but it is totally possible the Bombers keep Sanchez around and hope he works out his kinks and can be the 30 home run, 90 RBI hitter while also holding his own behind the plate.

MLB’s non-tender deadline is Dec. 2 and the Yankees must make a decision with Sanchez by then, who is projected to make around $5-6 million in arbitration.

“We understand Gary is a major talent and while he struggled in certain areas, he’s also made amazing strides in certain areas,” Boone added. “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.”

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