Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants have signed free agent catcher Gary Sánchez to a minor league deal:
Free-agent catcher Gary Sánchez in agreement with Giants on minor-league contract, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic
. Will report initially to team’s spring-training home in Scottsdale, then join a minor-league affiliate. Can opt out if not promoted to majors by May 1.
This move comes a little less than three months after a report that the team had interest in the former Yankee and Twin. At the time, Brady wrote:
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.
He spent the offseason preparing and playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, with no hits in five at bats, three strikeouts, a walk, and run scored.
Now, why are the Giants acquiring him? If you listened to Farhan Zaidi’s KNBR hit yesterday after the Opening Day loss at Yankee Stadium, it became clear that the Giants don’t plan to be very lenient with Joey Bart this year, even though they sympathize with the hand he’s been dealt in terms of his development pathway (pandemic year, Posey’s sudden retirement).
That doesn’t mean this move is in response to that — Zaidi also said something that caused my ears to perk up and out and I think it suggests what also might be going on here:
The other thing, which is kind of an ongoing sort of situation for us is: we’re still talking to other teams about making a potential bench addition; someone like Matt Beaty [...] we’re looking to add another bench player who can bring some infield-outfield versatility.
Now that answer is in response to the trade for Matt Beaty over adding Bryce Johnson to the Opening Day roster, and it was a sort of preamble to Zaidi’s point that Bryce Johnson isn’t on the 40-man yet and the implication there is that you don’t add a guy to the 40-man until you absolutely have to — but what has this got to do with Joey Bart?
First, when Farhan Zaidi says “bench addition,” he’s not talking about just a pinch hitter or defensive guy. Bench players are platoon players, and if most every organization out there has started to look at maximizing all 26 spots on their active rosters, then acquiring even the back of somebody else’s might cause you to have to trade a guy from the back of yours.
That doesn’t necessarily mean I think the Giants are gearing up to trade Joey Bart for a platoon infielder-outfielder, but I do think it makes it easier for them to move Austin Wynns for one, in which case Gary Sánchez takes Wynns’ spot and once he’s ready jumps up to the major leagues allowing for the Giants to use Joey Bart’s final option year to get him more reps and development time; but also, yeah, they could still just trade Joey Bart.
In any case, the Giants aren’t adding Sánchez just in case — his right-handed pull power (51.6% pull rate and 2017-2022, he’s 4th best in MLB in catcher isolated power with .231) makes him a great fit for Oracle Park and if they’re projecting Joey Bart’s hitting profile to have the ceiling of Gary Sánchez, then they might as well get the guy when he’s available.