In need of an additional power bat and curious about what he can offer, the Mets added former Yankees phenom Gary Sanchez to their roster Friday — for now.
Sanchez will serve as a catcher alongside Francisco Alvarez and perhaps as a DH option. He could have opted out of his contract and returned to free agency had the Mets not promoted him from Triple-A Syracuse, so they did because, eh, why not? He had been hitting well in the minors, so might as well see what happens in the majors.
This amounts to an audition for Sanchez, who hasn’t been an above-average hitter since 2019 and has reputedly and statistically been a poor catcher throughout his career.
Tomas Nido (dry eye syndrome) began a rehabilitation assignment with Low-A St. Lucie on Friday and Omar Narvaez (left calf strain) is scheduled to start playing in minor-league games next week. So the Mets’ catcher situation might get awfully crowded — and interesting — awfully quickly.
“Sure. I’m not going to insult your intelligence and say it’s not [a de facto tryout for a longer stint with the Mets],” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s getting a chance to play in the big leagues when it looked like it might not happen for him again. I think he understands that opportunity is one he needs to take advantage of. That’s something that’s positive that we have going for him. The challenge for me now is to get him some opportunities to do that.”
Sanchez said through an interpreter: “I’ll be here to do whatever they want . . . As long as you’re healthy and as long as you have the opportunity to play baseball, you can do a lot of good things. Sometimes you can’t get caught up in the ‘oh, I want to do what I did in 2017,’ because if you look at it, maybe I’ll be even better if I get the opportunity.”
The Mets sent Michael Perez, who had been Alvarez’s backup, back to Syracuse to make room on the active roster. Showalter called the addition of Sanchez “another good depth [move] for us.”
Sanchez has played for the Yankees (2015-21), earning All-Star nods in 2017 and 2019, and the Twins last season. But upon reaching free agency last offseason, he went unsigned until inking a minor-league deal with the Giants at the start of April.
In 16 games with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate, Sanchez hit .164 with a .319 OBP, .182 slugging percentage and zero homers.
In eight games with Syracuse, Sanchez slashed .308/.514/.500 with one homer.
“In comparison to when I was in San Francisco, I didn’t have a spring training, so I didn’t have that same rhythm, same timing. That was pretty much my spring training,” Sanchez said. "I only played around 14 games there. So I didn’t really have it. When I got here to Syracuse, I had the rhythm of the game and I was able to start getting better at-bats and better looks there.”
Regarding Sanchez’s role, Showalter said, “We’ll see how it evolves.” That sentiment is similar to the one he expressed following the call-ups of homegrown prospects Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos.
“He’s doing well down there and we’re going to see if he can contribute for us. He’s got that possibility,” Showalter said of Sanchez. “We’re very respectful what the Yankees and Minnesota and San Francisco have tried to do. They also didn’t have room for him. So we’ll see. We made room and we’re going to take a look at it."