BRONX, NY — Catcher Gary Sánchez passed his physical and has signed with the Giants, the team announced Saturday.
Sánchez, 30, will report to Triple-A Sacramento and work on getting conditioned for big league baseball, manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday. At the very least, he’ll add temporary depth to an organization with a still unsettled catching situation at the big league level.
Sánchez’s deal, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal’s original report, is a minor league contract that includes an opt-out on May 1 if he’s not promoted. The Athletic also reported that Sánchez will earn a prorated $4 million salary for time spent in the big leagues.
“We’ve been talking to and thinking about Gary for quite some time,” Kapler said. “Have done a lot of work on him dating back to the middle of the offseason, maybe even earlier. He was available and healthy and we thought it was a good opportunity to add some depth on a guy that we feel like has a chance to make a contribution at the Major League level at some point.”
Sánchez is known as a bat-first catcher. He was an All-Star with the Yankees in 2017 and 2019, hitting over 30 homers in both seasons. Last year with the Twins, he hit .205 with 16 home runs — extending a trend of boom-or-bust results and ultimately disappointing performance at the plate.
As a defensive catcher, Sánchez’s arm strength stands out, a quality that could be more valuable with an increase in stealing brazenness and stolen base success rate.
Sánchez graded favorably to catcher Joey Bart — who was supposed to start Saturday but got scratched with back tightness — when it came to defensive metrics. Kapler said he consulted with a lot of people with the Twins and studied film of Sánchez this winter.
“Gary’s a hard worker,” Gerrit Cole, who played with Sánchez in New York in 2020 and 2021, told KNBR. “Good person and a good teammate…He improved a lot when he was with us. Especially with the stuff that (catching coordinator Tanner Swanson) brought in. He just works at it, he works hard.”
Sánchez played winter ball in the Dominican Professional Baseball League this offseason and competed in the World Baseball Classic, but was unable to find a major league deal.
Now with the Giants, he joins Bart, Pérez, Blake Sabol, and Austin Wynns as MLB-quality catchers. Whether any of them can grab hold of the full-time starting role — a possibility that differs in reality for each individual — remains to be seen.
“It’s a really, really hard position to have depth (at),” Kapler said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of teams around baseball who feel great about their depth at Triple-A from a catching perspective…you want to have as much catching depth as possible.”
- Elsewhere on the roster, the Giants shuffled in center fielder Bryce Johnson for Brett Wisely, who made his debut on Opening Day. Kapler said some things were potentially in the works that made it easier for the team to carry Wisely — who was already on the 40-man roster — on Thursday. To add Johnson, SF placed reliever Luke Jackson on the 60-day IL.
Johnson led both spring training leagues in stolen bases and presents a much more appealing option as a backup center fielder than Wisely.
Kapler said he expects both Wisely and Johnson to contribute at the big-league level this year.
- Ross Stripling is scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday morning. The Giants then go to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox. Their starters in Comiskey Park will be Anthony DeSclafani, Logan Webb (on six days rest) and Alex Wood. Sean Manaea is a strong possibility to come out of the bullpen on Monday.
The Giants haven’t yet decided who will start their home opener.
- Outfielders Mitch Haniger (oblique) and Austin Slater (hamstring) are set to be re-evaluated when the Giants return to San Francisco, per the team. Haniger has been expected to return quicker than Slater, but there’s no substantial developments on either’s timeline.