O's claim Gold Glove 2B Yolmer Sánchez

November 2nd, 2020

Facing upcoming roster decisions regarding several of their regular infielders, the Orioles on Friday made a move to bolster their depth in that department, claiming former Gold Glove second baseman off waivers from the White Sox.

A glove-first switch-hitter who can play all three infield positions, Sánchez, 28, split a truncated 2020 season between the Giants and White Sox. He appeared in 11 games for Chicago, where he spent the previous six seasons and much of 2017-19 as its everyday second baseman. Sánchez led the American League in triples in 2018 and won his Gold Glove Award in '19, racking up four Defensive Runs Saved, a 4.9 Ultimate Zone Rating and one Out Above Average, per Statcast, that season.

But rather than the pay him a hefty raise through arbitration, the White Sox non-tendered Sánchez shortly after he claimed Gold. He signed a Minor League deal with the Giants but never appeared in a game for them and was released in August, returning to the White Sox later that month. He remains arbitration-eligible and under team control through 2022.

"He’s a very good player. I can see him helping us in a number of ways," general manager Mike Elias said. "He can move around all three infield spots and is a plus defender at second and third. … I can also see him battling for a primary job. There are a lot of ways he fits and helps the team."

All told, Sánchez has hit .245 with 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a .660 OPS (81 OPS+) across parts of seven big league seasons, all with the White Sox. His best season came in 2017, when he hit .267 with 12 homers, 59 RBIs and a .732 OPS in 141 games, producing 3.2 Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference. From 2017-19, his 10 DRS ranked tied for fifth among AL second baseman.

In Baltimore, Sánchez profiles as versatile middle-infield depth for a club that, by winter's end, could find itself without its primary shortstop and second baseman from a year ago. The Orioles must decide by Sunday whether to exercise ’ $3.5 million team option and feature second-year eligible as part of their seven-player arbitration class. Neither are guaranteed to return for an Orioles team that operated with MLB’s lowest payroll in 2020 and faces financial uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

What’s immediately clear is the boost Sánchez brings to the Orioles’ infield defense, which, forced to play long stretches without Iglesias due to injury, ranked as baseball’s second worst unit in 2020 by Outs Above Average. One of the first offseason moves the O’s made was choosing not to renew the contract of third-base coach Jose Flores, who oversaw the club’s infield instruction.