Plenty of talk around those Memorial Day barbecues involved the San Diego Padres claiming veteran catcher Gary Sanchez off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the New York Mets. Now the question becomes exactly how (or will) Sanchez benefit the Padres.
San Diego Padres predictions: What happens with Gary Sanchez?
The 30-year-old Sanchez certainly has the potential to be a boost for the Padres behind the plate, a position where they desperately need something good to happen. San Diego enters Tuesday's series opener in Miami against the Marlins with a combined minus-0.8 bWAR at catcher, ranking the team 27th out of MLB's 30 clubs.
Sanchez, however, will need to find himself again to improve those numbers. Over the last four seasons (spent with three different teams), Sanchez has slashed .195/.287/.392 in 1,096 plate appearances. There have been 49 home runs sprinkled in there as well, so there is potential for power, but the 324 strikeouts and overall 89 OPS+ tell the larger story.
A two-time All-Star, including in 2019, right before the dropoff began, the Padres are hoping that that kind of talent is unlocked again. It's a gamble, but it's also one worth the risk as San Diego needs some kind of catalyst at the plate from its catchers.
So what happens next? Sanchez is expected to join the club in time for the Tuesday opener in Miami, meaning either Austin Nola or Brett Sullivan will likely be optioned. Our bet is that Sullivan is sent back to Triple-A El Paso, giving the Padres a pair of veteran catchers moving forward. As AJ Cassavell mentioned in this article, Sanchez will have to learn a completely new pitching staff and that will take a little time. Having Nola, who has been with the team all season, there to help speed along the learning process makes sense.
How often will Sanchez play? Expect manager Bob Melvin to give him a chance to inject some life into the position during the Marlins series. Sanchez may not be behind the plate when Tuesday's lineups are announced, but he'll likely draw a start later in the series. Look for an even split of the catching duties from there as one of the two catchers will hopefully assert himself as the everyday starter.
Will Sanchez make an impact? We say yes ... eventually. It's going to take some time for him to adjust to the Padres, so don't expect him to revert to 2019 Sanchez for a bit. However, any type of uptick from what San Diego has been receiving at catcher will be worth the move. Let's predict the end of the series in Denver against the Colorado Rockies on June 11 as the time where we will really have a feel for Sanchez in a Padres uniform and if the experiment will work.
If Sanchez can stick with the team through mid-July and Luis Campusano can indeed return after the All-Star break, it could give the Padres some interesting options and decisions to make in the second half of the season.