Yolmer Sanchez was the emotional center of the 2018 White Sox.
He was fun and jovial and everything that’s easy to root for. His celebrations — on the rare occasion the White Sox had something worth celebrating — became instant viral sensations across baseball Twitter, and the stories from beat writers who interacted with him on a daily basis spoke of a player who was as friendly up close as he seemed from afar.
Nobody is safe. pic.twitter.com/jxjaTJsXyF
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 26, 2018
Yolmer Sanchez adding himself into the umpires’ review on the last call, using his battle helmet as the headset. He certainly enjoys what he’s doing.
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) August 15, 2018
Yolmer Sánchez started to trot to first while holding out his shin guard to the bat boy…then suddenly accelerated at the last second. Bat boy finally caught up to him about 10 feet from the bag
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) August 26, 2018
Omar Narvaez said he and Yolmer Sanchez played on same team in Venezuela when they were 7.
What was Yolmer like then?
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) September 10, 2018
Not to get overly hyperbolic, but Sanchez just flat out seems like one of those players who never takes for granted the fact that he gets to make a living playing baseball. And maybe his journey here is the reason why. Sanchez has been in the White Sox organization for 10 years, signing as an amateur free agent in 2009, and while he shot up to a major-league caliber prospect relatively quickly, it took him more than a while to really get his footing. He made his debut with the big club in 2014 and kind of toiled as a Quad-A nobody, traveling up and down from Charlotte, for three years and ~700 plate appearances.
Since then, Sanchez has turned into something of an asset for the White Sox. While his 2017 breakout portended a player who may have played his way into a role on the next would-be contender, his 2018 season was more or less the same — adequate defense at third and average or maybe slightly worse offense.
The question now, though, becomes whether Sanchez is overburdened as a full-time starter or if the White Sox would be better equipped with him in more of a utility role moving forward. He can hold his own and not be a burden on a lineup offensively and defensively, as he’s proved the last two years, but at the same time he hasn’t exactly produced at a level where the White Sox shouldn’t look for an upgrade at the position, nor would they. Put simply: If Sanchez is a starting infield on a team with little to no holes elsewhere in the lineup, that’s fine. But if, say, a big-time free agent third baseman becomes available at a price they like, or if Nick Madrigal comes up as a second baseman and pushes Yoan Moncada to third, Sanchez’s presence as a guy who can fill in at 3/4 of the infield and maybe even a corner outfield spot in a pinch means he still holds value.
Whether that happens in 2019 or not is yet to be determined. It’s entirely possible that if the above situations don’t play out, Sanchez enters the season as the starting third baseman once again. And if so, that’s more than acceptable. But whether it’s there or as someone who can fill in well all over the field, it seems like he has a role with the White Sox for the foreseeable future.
Lead Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports