Brewers bulk up at backstop with Sánchez deal

February 21st, 2024

The Brewers are adding some big-name veteran catching depth, signing free agent backstop to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2025. According to's Mark Feinsand, the deal is worth $7 million.

"Gary Sánchez brings an experienced right-handed power bat to our lineup," said general manager Matt Arnold. "He will be a great complement behind the plate to William Contreras and also a valuable asset in the designated-hitter role. We are excited to have him in Milwaukee."

Veteran catcher , signed to a Minor League contract on Jan. 5, was released to clear a roster spot for Sánchez.

The Brewers already boast a star at catcher in reigning Silver Slugger Award winner , so the addition of Sánchez gives them a powerful 1-2 punch behind the plate with the potential for either to see time at designated hitter. Milwaukee had been seeking another option at DH after several position players became free agents, a list that includes Carlos Santana, Josh Donaldson, Rowdy Tellez and Mark Canha.

Left-handed-hitting Jake Bauers, who was acquired earlier this offseason from the Yankees via trade, profiled as the Brewers’ primary DH going into Spring Training. Now, it seems that Bauers and Sánchez could form a platoon at DH, with the recently signed Rhys Hoskins playing first base every day. Sánchez could also fill in for Contreras regularly, giving new manager Pat Murphy plenty of lineup and matchup options.

Sánchez enjoyed a resurgence in 2023, though the year started off tumultuously. He signed late with the Giants in April and opened the season at Triple-A Sacramento before being released on May 2. Sánchez then signed with the Mets, but his tenure in New York lasted only three games before being designated for assignment.

On May 29, the Padres claimed him off waivers, and in San Diego, Sánchez found more consistent playing time and produced more than he had in years. Across 72 games, Sánchez hit 19 homers with a .792 OPS before a right wrist fracture in early September ended his season.

A two-time All-Star with the Yankees in 2017 and '19, Sánchez averaged 26 homers and posted a .847 OPS from '16-19 as New York’s primary backstop. A dip in offensive production (.681 OPS from '20-22) and defensive issues led to a trade in March '22 to the Twins. Sánchez spent one semi-productive season in Minnesota (16 homers, .659 OPS, 1.3 fWAR) before bouncing from San Francisco to New York to San Diego last summer.

In nine big league seasons, Sánchez is a career .225/.309/.469 hitter with 173 home runs and 109 OPS+. Though Sánchez has been viewed as a poor defensive catcher, Sánchez was worth two Catcher Framing Runs and two Catcher Stealing Runs across 526 2/3 innings in 2023. Combine those metrics with his 1.90-second pop time (86th percentile and tied for his career-best) and Sánchez enjoyed one of his best defensive seasons of his career.

-- Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru contributed to this story.