NEW YORK -- The Mets intend to see how potent Gary Sánchez's bat still is.
Sánchez was added to the active roster before Friday's series opener against the Guardians. The eight-year veteran Sánchez will split reps at catcher with rookie Francisco Álvarez and at designated hitter with a number of others, as he hopes to rediscover some of the potency that made him one of the game’s top power-hitting catchers with the Yankees last decade.
“It feels good to be back here in New York after all those years,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “It’s a different team, but it’s still the same city, so it’s exciting to be here.”
The club optioned catcher Michael Pérez to Triple-A Syracuse as a corresponding move. To make room on the 40-man roster for Sánchez, the club moved Tim Locastro to the 60-day injured list. The Mets also announced Tomás Nido will start a rehab assignment with Single-A St. Lucie.
It's a low-risk, potentially high-reward gamble for a team that has struggled with its power production in recent weeks. When Sánchez became a free agent earlier this month, the Mets snapped him up on a Minor League deal, under the condition that he could opt out of his contract if the team did not add him to its roster by May 19. With that deadline looming, the Mets decided Thursday to make the move.
In Sánchez, they are adding a 30-year-old two-time All-Star who has struggled to the tune of a .195/.287/.394 slash line over the past three seasons for the Yankees and Twins. Sánchez is four years removed from his most recent All-Star season, in which he clubbed 34 homers with an .841 OPS for the Yankees.
He spent the early part of this season in the Giants' Minor League system, but he opted out of that deal in early May to pursue other opportunities.
Upon joining Triple-A Syracuse, Sánchez batted .308 with a 1.014 OPS in eight games.
“As long as you’re healthy and as long as you have the opportunity to play baseball, you can do a lot of good things,” Sánchez said. “Sometimes, you can’t get caught up in the, ‘Oh, I want to do what I did in 2017,’ but if you look at it, maybe I’ll do even better if I get the opportunity.”
The Mets intend to see if he can replicate that sort of production at the highest level. In the short term, Sánchez should find a decent share of opportunities behind the plate, with both Omar Narváez (strained left calf) and Nido (dry eye syndrome) on the injured list. By the time Narváez and Nido return over the next two to three weeks, the team should have a better handle on what Sánchez can provide.
“We’re very respectful of what the Yankees and Minnesota and San Francisco have tried to do,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said, referencing Sánchez’s previous teams. “They also didn’t have room for him. So we’ll see. We made room, and we’re going to take a look at him.”
In addition to his work at catcher, Sánchez is likely to siphon at least some DH at-bats away from Daniel Vogelbach, Tommy Pham, Mark Canha and Mark Vientos. A right-handed hitter, Sánchez features reverse platoon splits for his career, which could aid his search for playing time.
“I’ll be here to do whatever they want,” Sánchez said. “I’ll give my 100% when I’m out there on the field. I’m here to help the other players, to help the pitchers, and just to go out there and win. Because at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing is to go out there and win with this team.”