San Diego Padres: A.J. Preller's best signing so far in 2023

San Diego Padres A.J. Preller has made so big-named signings in 2023, but his best one is turning into a key part of the pitcher/catcher battery.
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Over the offseason, San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller made some key additions to the roster with some free agent signings.

He signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts and pitcher Michael Wacha from the Boston Red Sox, while also adding DH Nelson Cruz of the Washington Nationalsand Matt Carpenter from the New York Yankees. Bogaerts and Wacha have been good additions, but Cruz was recently DFA'd and Carpenter has been splitting at-bats as DH with Rougned Odor. Those offseason additions remain a mixed bag in terms of results, but Preller's best move very well could have come during the season.

San Deigo Padres: A.J. Prellers best move has been signing Gary Sanchez

Since being traded by the Yankees to the Minnesota Twins before the 2022 season, it's been nothing short of a struggle for Gary Sanchez. The Twins moved on from him, he signed with the San Francisco Giants and choose free agency after not making the roster out of camp. The New York Mets signed him next, but he was not able to stick there. If you're not able to stick with the underachieving Mets in 2023, then you know you're close to hitting rock bottom.

Given a third opportunity this season, the veteran power-hitting catcher is making the most of it and then some with the Padres. Just how big of an addition has he been? He has added some pop to the lineup with seven home runs and 21 RBI, but his biggest contribution has been behind the plate.

Since he has taken on the catching duties for manager Bob Melvin, the Padres staff has come around, more importantly, lefty Blake Snell. With Sanchez catching him, the duo has combined for the lowest ERA over an MLB pitcher's first eight career starts with a specific starting catcher since 1913. Only Nolan Ryan and Mark Bailey with the 1984 Houston Astros and Ervin Santana and Jose Castro with the 2017 Minnesota Twins have a better ERA at 0.47.

Snell's most recent outing was his best since the two started working together. The former Tampa Bay Rays hurler went six innings, struck out 11 Mets batters, and gave up one hit in what turned into a much-needed 3-1 San Diego victory. Sanchez scored one of the three Friars runs in the second inning that they needed.

Defense and pitching can go a long way into being a successful baseball team, something the Padres have yet to be in 2023. They have some big-named players on their roster that are not having the type of season they hoped to have, but it's been a catcher that was signed in late May that has been a key force in keeping their playoff hopes alive despite a less-than-stellar first half of the season.

San Diego enters the All-Star Break at 43-47, 8.5 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks and six games out of a Wild Card spot, needing to jump at least three teams. That's asking a lot, but nothing is impossible.

Not a bad first two months with the Padres for Sanchez, who left the World Baseball Classic in March without a team. Now he's catching and hoping to turn around a San Diego staff that will be key to a second-half surge they hope to have to find their way into October baseball.