The SF Giants entered spring training with an open competition at catcher. It appears that the competition will continue into the season as they added power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez on a minor league deal per a team announcement.
SF Giants add power-hitting catcher to the mix on a minors pact
San Francisco was connected to Sánchez in the offseason and they were finally able to complete the deal just as the regular season began. Jon Heyman of the NY Post adds that the guaranteed portion of the deal is for $4 million if he is added to the active roster.
Sánchez's deal will have a quick turnaround given that it includes an opt-out on May 1. If he is hitting well in Triple-A over the next couple of weeks, he will have external suitors and could be a potential addition for the Giants as well. Given his experience, May 1 does feel like a pretty hard deadline for the Giants to make a decision.
The 30-year-old catcher joins a pretty crowded mix of catchers competing for playing time in San Francisco. Of course, the Giants are currently going with Joey Bart, Roberto Pérez, and Blake Sabol as the catching core to begin the season.
However, the Sacramento River Cats will have several backstops as well including Sánchez, Austin Wynns, and Ricardo Genovés as well as fringe options like Ford Proctor and Clint Coulter.
The front office appears to be approaching this as a make-or-break season for Bart. Bart should get a chance to prove himself to begin the year. That said, if he does not perform, it could open up the door for more playing for alternatives like Pérez, Sabol, and Sánchez.
In Sánchez, San Francisco is getting an experienced catcher with defensive concerns but with a track record for being a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat. He is a two-time All-Star who has slashed .225/.311/.467 (109 OPS+) with a 9.8 percent walk rate against a 26.9 percent walk rate throughout his career.
This includes four seasons out of eight in which he has reached at least 20 home runs. In two seasons (2017 and 2019), Sánchez eclipsed the 30-homer mark. Two of his 34 home runs in 2019 came against the Giants and one was a monstrous shot to left field.
So, why would a player like this still be available? It has been a few years since the power-hitting backstop has been an above-average offensive producer as he has tallied just a 90 OPS+ since the start of 2020.
Plus, Sánchez's work behind the plate has been problematic over the years. His blocking was an issue earlier in his career, but he has shown modest improvement. His pitching framing has been inconsistent as well. Though, he has generally flashed a strong arm.
In his lone season with the Minnesota Twins in 2022, the eight-year veteran did have one of his better seasons behind the plate as he was worth +5.7 Catcher Defensive Adjustment (CDA) according to Baseball Prospectus. Pitch framing was a factor as to why his catching graded out favorably overall.
Sánchez offers some potential upside with the bat. Though, it has been a few years since he has realized that upside. If his bat gets going in the minors, it would behoove the Giants to see, at the very least, how he can impact the Giants roster.