Should the Arizona Diamondbacks consider pursuing Gary Sanchez?

Veteran slugger Gary Sanchez is still on the free agent market, but should the Arizona Diamondbacks pursue him to cover DH and backup catcher?
Sep 4, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Gary Sanchez (99) celebrates after
Sep 4, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Gary Sanchez (99) celebrates after / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks have two areas on their roster that may need an answer come Opening Day. That is the back-up catcher and who will platoon with Joc Pederson at designated hitter. But the D-Backs could take out two birds with one stone if they were to sign Gary Sanchez. The former NY Yankee all-star is still a free agent and could fit both roles perfectly for Arizona.

Sanchez was a low-cost pick-up by the division rival San Diego Padres in late May. He received 260 PAs with the Friars, batting a solid .219/.292/.500 with a .335 wOBA and 115 wRC+. Despite only appearing in 75 total games, Sanchez had the 11th most home runs at 19. His .275 isolated slugging percentage was the best among any catcher, with at least 250 plate appearances last season.

A lot of Sanchez’s production was against left-handed pitching. Even though only 79 of his 267 total plate appearances came against Southpaws, 13 of his 28 extra-base hits, including nine of his home runs, were against lefties. Gary had an astounding .413 ISO, .984 OPS, and 162 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in the small sample size. For what it’s worth, among the batters with at least 75 appearances vs LHP, Sanchez had the best ISO and ranked top 15 in OPS and wRC+.

So, what reasons would there be not to pursue Sanchez? Well, the first is his price might be too much for a platoon DH/backup catcher. Another team in need of catching help may see him as more of a full-time option behind the plate, and that might not only be more of an incentive for Sanchez but also earn him more money.

Sanchez’s defensive reputation was destroyed by his first few years with the Yankees, but last year, he was a solid backstop. He had +7 defensive runs saved with only -0.1 framing runs. He’s also great at keeping base runners quiet. Sanchez’s 1.90-second pop time ranked 8th in baseball while his throws averaged 85.5 MPH, the 13th best. Blocking has always been the point of contention many bring up when talking about Sanchez’s defense, but he only had -1 blocking runs last year.

If Sanchez were to sign for a reasonable price, then I think the Diamondbacks should consider it. A 160 wRC+ and ISO over .400 vs. LHP, even in a sample size of less than 100 plate appearances, isn’t anything to scoff at. Sanchez would probably get three, maybe four starts a week, along with pinch-hitting appearances against lefty relievers. The Diamondbacks could have a solid backup catcher who can hit some without giving up a massive amount of defense. Pederson and Sanchez could be an extremely productive duo as well. But if another team is willing to bid the price for Sanchez up or offer him a starting role, then the D-Backs might be better off going after Robbie Grossman and sticking with one of their minor league signees to cover the second catcher role.