Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez underwent left shoulder debridement surgery earlier this week.
The injured shoulder reportedly had been bothering Sanchez since 2017, and it started flaring up again this offseason so the Yanks decided to pull the trigger on just getting the surgery.
The expected recovery time for this procedure is supposed to be three months, putting Gary in line to return to baseball around early-mid February, although Cashman played it safe and just said (I’m paraphrasing) that he’ll almost certainly be ready for opening day. Kinda has to play it safe after the “Aaron Judge will return in three weeks after breaking his wrist” thing that never seemed realistic. Fair enough.
I really hope that this serves as the explanation for why Gary forgot how to hit this year. I’m hesitant to say it because the front shoulder is the “power” shoulder, and his power numbers were not far off from where they should have been. His batting average was the real issue. I’ll blame it on this anyway and if he’s good again in 2019 then I look smart. Sound good?
Aaron Judge had shoulder surgery last offseason and didn’t miss a beat this past year. Judge had arthroscopic surgery and Sanchez had debridement surgery, which are different procedures. I wish I had more information than that, but I’m definitely not a doctor and I’m not going to pretend I actually know the difference. For what it’s worth, I’m reasonably certain that an arthroscopic procedure (Judge’s surgery) is a “cleaning out” kind of thing, while debridement surgery (Sanchez’s surgery) is removing some sort of loose body but is somehow different than arthroscopic surgery. Gary’s thing is probably considered more serious in the medical community.
The Yanks were in the market for at least one or two depth/Quadruple-A catchers anyway. After Sanchez and Austin Romine, there’s a pretty sizable gap before you get to Kyle Higashioka and then a massive gap before whoever is next. 2018 first and second round picks (and catchers) Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux are not even close to being considered options. The absolute highest they could end up this year is Double-A if they tear the cover off the ball for the entire year, and even then, probably not.
The Yankees already brought in one guy for this role in Ryan Lavarnway, former highly-regarded Red Sox prospect. He’s a Quadruple-A guy who can hit in the minors but not in the majors and is bad at defense at every level. I’m fine with the signing though. They need the depth. Catching depth in the organization SUCKS despite Gary and Romine being good major league options.
I think the Yankees very well could sign another guy in the Kratz/Higgy/Lavarnway mold. I would expect them to do it. A dark-horse candidate would be a Brian McCann return, who could start if Gary isn’t good to go and transition to a backup role when he comes back. I’d love a McCann reunion, but why wouldn’t he just go to Atlanta who he has more of an attachment to and has more of a need for a lefty-hitting catcher to be part of a platoon? They’ll be able to promise more money and playing time, so I don’t see him coming back. I’d like it though!
It really stinks that Gary is hurt and is going to essentially lose his offseason, but if this can solve his 2018 hitting woes and he won’t be missing any regular-season action, then that would be fantastic. Get well soon, Gary!