Giants, catcher Sanchez agree to Minors deal

March 31st, 2023

The Giants are in agreement on a Minor League deal with veteran catcher Gary Sánchez, according to a report by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal on Friday. The club has not confirmed the news.

Sánchez, 30, is expected to report to the club’s Spring Training home in Scottsdale, Ariz., before joining a Minor League affiliate. He’ll have the ability to opt out of his deal if he’s not promoted to the Majors by May 1, per Rosenthal.

Traded from the Yankees to the Twins with Gio Urshela for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt last March, Sánchez hit .205/.282/.377 (89 OPS+) with 16 homers and 61 RBIs over 128 games for Minnesota in 2022. It marked the backstop’s third straight season with an OPS+ below 100, which represents the league average.

Sánchez burst onto the scene with the Bronx Bombers in 2016, hitting 20 homers in 53 games and finishing second behind Michael Fulmer in the AL Rookie of the Year race. After following that up with 33 homers, 90 RBIs and an .876 OPS in 2017, Sánchez looked to be a key part of New York’s young core alongside Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Luis Severino.

However, declining offensive production and criticism about his defense characterized his final few seasons in pinstripes.

After being dealt to Minnesota, Sánchez opened 2022 splitting time between the DH and catcher spots but was forced back into regular duty behind the plate after Ryan Jeffers underwent right thumb surgery in July.

The Giants carried three catchers -- , Roberto Pérez and Rule 5 Draft pick -- on their Opening Day roster this year, but each comes with question marks, creating uncertainty about the club’s long-term outlook behind the plate. 

Bart, 26, hasn’t developed as quickly as the Giants hoped when they selected him with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 Draft, posting a 38.5% strikeout rate while struggling to overcome some defensive shortcomings in 2022. 

San Francisco didn’t guarantee Bart a roster spot at the beginning of the spring, though he earned a place in the catching mix with a solid performance during Cactus League play. Still, the Giants opted to give the starting nod to Pérez in Thursday’s 5-0 Opening Day loss to the Yankees, with Bart entering the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. 

“I think Roberto is a calming presence behind the plate,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “On a day like today, it really pays to be kind of easygoing. Joey’s got a lot of those qualities, too. I don’t want to take that away from him. But I’ll speak specifically to [Pérez] -- a calming presence, makes everyone comfortable. We know he’s going to be prepared. The stage is fine for him. Nothing is going to overwhelm him. He felt like the right choice to work with Logan [Webb].”

Pérez, 34, won two Gold Glove Awards over his eight-year run in Cleveland, but he comes with some durability concerns after appearing in only 65 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. Sabol, 25, is a converted outfielder who is still working to refine his catching skills and made his Major League debut in left field on Thursday. 

Austin Wynns was the odd man out of the Giants’ catching competition this spring, but he remains an option at Triple-A Sacramento, as well.