No, he’s not the reigning Minnesota Twins player that the San Francisco Giants thought they were getting, nor is he the multiple-time All-Star New York Yankees player that the Giants hoped they were getting. But Gary Sánchez is reportedly on the Giants radar.
The news was reported by insider Héctor Gómez. At the time of publishing this, no Giants beat reporter had mentioned the team’s interest, though Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle retweeted Gómez’s report.
The San Francisco Giants are showing interest in Gary Sanchez.@z101digital @ZDeportes— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) January 10, 2023
The Giants need a catcher after designating Austin Wynns for assignment a few days ago. Joey Bart is the only catcher on the 40-man roster, unless you count Rule 5 utility player Blake Sabol, and scouting reports are not kind to his ability to stick as a backstop.
Sánchez is not the player he was in 2017, when he made the All-Star Game, won the Silver Slugger, and collected a down-ballot MVP vote. He’s not even the player he was in 2019, when he went to his second All-Star Game.
But he’s still a good player. In 2022, his first year with the Twins, Sánchez hit just .205/.282/.377, good for an 89 wRC+ ... but thanks to solid defense, he was worth 1.3 fWAR.
While his overall offense has dipped (he hit .278/.345/.531 in 2017, good for a 131 wRC+), his power remains strong. He hit 16 home runs last year in 471 plate appearances, and in 2021 had 23 dingers in 440 plate appearances. There’s not just value there, but also the potential to tap into something special. The Giants have certainly done well with reclamation projects, and Sánchez is the fun reclamation project who’s already plenty good enough to contribute to the team as is. Anything extra they get is just a cherry on top of the sundae.
If the Giants were to sign Sánchez, it’s unclear what role he would fill. Would he be Bart’s backup? Would they split time evenly? Would he be the starter and Bart the backup? The Giants would surely love for Bart to take the reins of the position, but hopes and expectations are not the same thing.
After his rough start to the 2022 season (.596 OPS in 36 games), Bart was optioned to AAA Sacramento to work on some things. He returned with a vengeance, sporting an .803 OPS from his return in early July until the end of August, a span of 38 games. But he ended the season ice cold, with a .480 OPS in 23 September games.
Having a player of Sánchez’s caliber could take the pressure off of having to rely on Bart being the best version of himself.