Gary Sánchez DFA'd by Mets after short stint

May 25th, 2023

CHICAGO -- All told, the Gary Sánchez experiment lasted six days, three games and seven plate appearances.

Rather than keep Sánchez on the roster and carry three catchers, the Mets on Thursday designated the veteran for assignment, possibly ending his time in the organization. The move corresponded with Tomás Nido’s activation from the injured list following a multiweek bout with dry-eye syndrome.

“We tried to do some things while Tomás was out,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Now Tomás is back, and we’re going in a different direction. We’re trying to make the club as good as it can be each day. I think it is now with Tomás back.”

Nido will resume his regular role as the Mets’ backup catcher behind Francisco Alvarez, whose recent hot streak played at least some factor in the decision to DFA Sánchez. Entering Thursday’s series finale at Wrigley Field, Alvarez had homered three times in four games to produce a 1.687 OPS over that stretch. His slash line in May was .294/.379/.667, placing him among the game’s top offensive catchers.

“Francisco is doing well,” Showalter said, lauding Alvarez’s defense as well as his contributions at the plate. “It’s just the combination of getting Tomás back and [Alvarez] doing well, too. Our depth is good there at that position.”

“I’m a huge fan of him,” Nido added. “I’ve always been. I’ve always told him he belongs here.”

The Mets now have seven days to trade Sánchez (unlikely) or place him on outright waivers. While Sánchez may agree to go to Triple-A Syracuse in the absence of better opportunities outside the organization, the Mets cannot force him to do so. If Sánchez wants a release, the Mets must grant it. He was previously released this year by the Giants, before the Mets scooped him up on a Minor League deal that became worth a prorated portion of $1.5 million once he made the big league roster.

Sánchez, 30, last played regularly in the Majors for the Twins in 2022, batting .205 with a .659 OPS over 128 games. He is four years removed from his most recent All-Star season with the Yankees.

“I’m not sure what Gary’s plans are from here,” Showalter said.

As for the Mets, the team will roll with a catching tandem of Alvarez and Nido for approximately the next two weeks, until Omar Narváez is ready to return from the injured list. The team’s starting catcher entering the season, Narváez strained his left calf early in April and has been sidelined ever since, but he began a Minor League rehab assignment Thursday with High-A Brooklyn. He’s eligible to return from the IL on June 5 and should be activated on or around that time.

Once Narváez returns, the Mets will need to figure out how best to split time between him and Alvarez. They also must determine the long-term future of Nido, who signed a two-year, $3.7 million contract last offseason to buy out his remaining arbitration years. Carrying three catchers is an option, especially given Alvarez’s potential as a part-time designated hitter.

But with that decision still more than a week away, the Mets aren’t sweating it.

“We’ll see,” Showalter said. “Omar’s not too far down the road, hopefully, but sometimes things change. Maybe he’s not ready in 11 games or whatever it is. We’ll see. I’m glad we went down that [Sánchez] path, and I’m glad Tomás is back.”