Padres should add catcher Gary Sanchez
With the injury to Austin Nola, the lack of depth at catcher is glaring for the Padres.
The moment Austin Nola was struck in the nose by a baseball, first, everyone hoped and prayed he was OK. Blood was flowing from his nose. He was carted off the field with an apparent broken nose.
First and foremost, we wish Nola a speedy recovery. All we can do is hope this does not have long-term repercussions for Austin Nola, the human being, as well as the baseball player. Nola has been a valuable piece to this Padres club, posting 2.0 bWAR last year along with managing the pitching staff as the main backstop.
Once the dust settled from that scary incident, the lack of quality depth at catcher in San Diego became evident. Even if Nola does not miss an ample amount of time, it was a snapshot into the depth or lack thereof the Padres have behind the plate.
Brett Sullivan entered the game to replace Nola. He is a 29-year-old who is yet to break into the big leagues.
Luis Campusano is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Once the No. 45 overall prospect in baseball, he now enters his age 24 season still having not done much of anything at the big league level. Granted, his sample size is miniscule, at 92 career plate appearances. However, this will be his seventh season in the Padres’ system. The clock is ticking.
FanGraphs came out with their catching power rankings by team. They had the Padres at a lowly 26th.
This spring was supposed to be the Spring of Luis Campusano in Peoria. Aside from two homers, it frankly has not been. With a .211 average and a poor on-base percentage, he has not exactly instilled confidence in fans that he is progressing at the plate.
Sooner or later, the Padres will need to figure out what they have in Campusano. Perhaps if Nola can make a quick recovery in time for Opening Day, the Padres might be able to get by with a Nola-Campusano combo behind the plate. Even then, Nola only has logged 166 games over the last two seasons combined. He doesn’t exactly have a clean track record for health.
This isn’t 2017 anymore. This Padres squad has World Series championship and parade down the Gaslamp Quarter on the mind. They cannot afford to throw out a guy like Campusano if he isn’t ready for the moment and let him figure it out as he goes. There is no time.
Pedro Severino is currently in Peoria as a non-roster invitee. While he has plenty of big-league experience and two double-digit homer seasons under his belt, his defense is lacking. If the Padres are going to bring in a capable veteran, it should at least be someone with a reliable glove. Especially now that base-stealing will be much more prevalent.
The Padres have a clear need for veteran depth at catcher. Last year, Jorge Alfaro filled that role beautifully. However, a reunion seems unlikely.
Where do the Padres go?
The trade market for catchers is rather dull at the moment. The Padres would likely only be able to come away with some aging backstop who is way past their prime at the plate.
Gary Sanchez is, for whatever reason, still available.
He is fresh off of catching for Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. However, he went just 0-for-5 in the tournament.
The Santo Domingo native has never been known for his defense. Especially during his time with the Yankees, he was a mash-first-catch-second kind of player. He hit 34 home runs with an .841 OPS in 2019 for New York.
Beginning in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, he experienced somewhat of a fall from grace. Between the Yankees and Twins, he has hit just .195 with a .681 OPS and 90 OPS+ since the start of the 2020 season.
Even with the decrease in All-Star-level power numbers, his defensive metrics improved dramatically once he went from New York to Minnesota ahead of last season.
|Pop Time percentile|
|Caught stealing %|
He improved in virtually every defensive metric from 2021 t0 2022.
Plus, it’s not like his power has totally vanished. He still checked in at the 92nd percentile for barrel rate and hard-hit rate last season.
The Padres could use depth behind the plate as well as some extra pop. Sanchez provides both. He certainly is not a long-term solution. The Padres still hope that remains Campusano’s area.
If Nola is out for a prolonged period of time, the Padres need insurance. Even when he returns, the position is the perhaps the thinnest of any the Padres have.
The Padres cannot afford to site idle. The time is now to win. Sanchez may still have something to offer with his power and improved defense behind the plate. If the Padres can enter into a team-friendly deal they can easily get out of, there is little downside to bringing in the Dominican backstop for at least a temporary boost.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.