Seven years after he first broke in with the New York Yankees, catcher Gary Sanchez is headed back to the Big Apple — just with the other team this time. Per Joel Sherman, the New York Mets have signed Sanchez to a Minor League deal:
The Mets are signing Gary Sanchez to a minor league contract.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 9, 2023
Sanchez will report to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse. After playing with the Dominican Republic at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, the former All-Star had latched on in the San Francisco Giants’ organization as he tried to make his way back to the Majors. But team and player parted ways last month, after Sanchez hit just .164 with no homers and 19 strikeouts in 16 games at Triple-A Sacramento.
It’s unclear what if anything is left in the 30-year-old Sanchez’s bat at this point, but the Mets are in desperate need of catching depth behind top prospect Francisco Alvarez — Omar Narvaez is still weeks away from a return due to a calf strain suffered last month, while replacement Tomas Nido is a mind-boggling 6-for-51 so far this year. Compared to that, Sanchez wasn’t all that bad the last time we saw him at the Major League level, hitting 16 homers with a .659 OPS in 128 games for the Minnesota Twins last year.
It seems like not all that long ago that it looked like he was destined for much, much more than that. Signed by the Yankees as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic for a massive (for the time) $3 million signing bonus, Sanchez was immediately regarded as one of — if not the — best catching prospect in the game. Then he put together one of the most ridiculous opening stretches to a career in recent memory: a 1.032 OPS, 20 homers and 42 RBI over 53 games in 2016, a run that nearly won him AL Rookie of the Year honors despite playing less than half the season.
Sanchez followed that up with 33 more dingers and an All-Star appearance in 2017 as a feisty young Yankees team made a surprise run all the way to the ALCS. But the city turned on him just as quickly as they fell in love with him, as Sanchez’s average dipped and his strikeouts (and defensive gaffes behind the plate) piled up. He remained a league-average catcher, with major power when he made contact and a very good throwing arm to control opposing running games, but the narrative — and the gap between his potential and what he ultimately became — was too much to overcome. After batting just .201 from 2018 through 2021, New York eventually decided it had to move on from its one-time catcher of the future.
Now, though, he’ll have a chance to make a new name for himself in New York, this time in Queens. It seems like a long shot, but if all Sanchez offers is some solid power in a couple of starts per week, that could do wonders for the Mets’ playoff push.