The Padres have acquired catcher Gary Sanchez, according to reporter Miriam Luz (Twitter link). Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune adds that Sanchez was picked up on a waiver claim, after the backstop was designated for assignment by the Mets last week.
Today’s waiver claim continues a whirlwind of movement for Sanchez, who went through the entire offseason without landing a free agent deal but will now be joining his third different organization in less than two months. Sanchez inked a minor league contract with the Giants just after Opening Day, but then exercised his opt-out clause in early May when San Francisco didn’t add him to its active roster. Sanchez quickly landed with the Mets on another minors deal that ended up locking in a prorated $1.5MM guarantee for the catcher when the Amazins selected him to their 26-man roster just before his next opt-out date on May 19.
However, Sanchez’s time in Queens was brief, as he appeared in only three games before the Mets DFA’ed him. As per the waiver claim, San Diego is now responsible for the roughly $1.1MM owed to Sanchez in remaining salary, and it was a price the Padres felt was worthwhile given the team’s catching woes.
Heading into today’s action, the Padres ranked 26th of 30 teams in catcher bWAR, as San Diego’s backstop had combined for a sub-replacement level -0.2 total. Austin Nola suffered a fractured nose late in Spring Training, which may have contributed to his dismal .131/.252/.182 slash line over 118 plate appearances this season. Luis Campusano only made 22 trips to the plate before hitting the injured list with a thumb injury that required surgery, so he won’t be a factor until around the middle of July. Rookie Brett Sullivan hasn’t hit much in his first 21 MLB games.
The Padres inked Kevin Plawecki to a minor league deal nine days ago, and now they’ve further bolstered their catching depth with Sanchez. Considering how little the Padres have gotten from the catcher position, it can be argued that Sanchez almost has to be some level of upgrade, as even the subpar .205/.282/.377 slash line he posted over 471 PA with the Twins in 2022 would be a step up for San Diego. It would seem like Sanchez will get at least six weeks to show the Padres what he can do, as the team might again re-evaluate its catching position when Campusano gets back, and San Diego also figures to check out more catching options prior to the trade deadline.
Once perhaps baseball’s best-hitting catcher in his prime years with the Yankees, Sanchez has hit only .195/.287/.392 in 1096 PA since the start of the 2020 season, translating to an 89 wRC+. His oft-criticized defensive issues (not to mention the hitting dropoff) led to an increasing lack of playing time with the Yankees, and ultimately led to New York moving him to the Twins as part of their five-player blockbuster trade in March 2022. While Sanchez’s glovework seemed to improve a bit in Minnesota, the Twins still let him walk in free agency, and the uncertainty surrounding Sanchez led to his long winter in free agency. The Brewers and Angels were two of the teams linked to his market before the Giants finally made the signing.