Should the Padres bring back Gary Sanchez?

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Should the San Diego Padres bring back Gary Sanchez next season?

During the beginning of the 2023 season, the Padres were getting zero production from their catchers.

Austin Nola regressed so severely that the Padres sent him to Triple-A in the middle of the season, and he never made it back to the majors.

It was Gary Sanchez who emerged as the Padres starting backstop. The veteran signed with the San Francisco Giants at the beginning of the 2023 season but never played a game for them. He was released in early May. The 30-year-old backstop promptly signed with the New York Mets but only made it 20 days on their roster before being DFA’d.

The Padres selected Sanchez in late May off of waivers. He immediately stepped in for the Padres, starting four games to close out the month.

When it was all said and done, Sanchez recorded a slash line of .218/.292/.500 with a .792 OPS in 72 games and 234 at-bats with the Padres. The numbers are not glaring in any way, shape, or form, but Sanchez did provide the team with power from the right side as well as stability.

The veteran went down late in the year with a fractured wrist. Sanchez is a free agent this winter and may sign with any team. There is reportedly interest from both sides in returning to San Diego, but nothing is set in stone.

So, should the Padres bring back the catcher, or is it time to look elsewhere for catching help?


Yes, he played well for the Padres

Blake Snell loved Gary Sanchez behind the plate. The veteran catcher owned Snell coming into the season and helped the southpaw understand how to attack hitters more efficiently. Snell began using all four of his pitches while Sanchez caught him, and he enjoyed a boost in his overall numbers. Though Snell still battled through control issues, the lefty was able to consistently get out of trouble with little to no damage. Sanchez is a factor in Snell emerging as a Cy Young favorite.

In games the Padres won during the 2023 season, Sanchez recorded a .963 OPS in 38 games. In games that they lost, he put up a .571 OPS in 37 games. The veteran catcher was critical in the success of the Padres, as they were getting minimal offensive production from the position early in 2023.

His cost should not be exorbitant, as Sanchez inked a $1.5 million deal before the 2023 season. The Mets paid some of the salary as the Padres selected him off waivers from New York. He may enjoy a slight pay increase, but the Padres shouldn’t be required to go multiple years for the veteran. If he wants to return at a decent price and platoon with Luis Campusano, then it will be a wise investment for the Padres.


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No, the team already has Luis Campusano

Luis Campusano is the future. Well, at least until Ethan Salas is ready to play at the major league level. That duo could be the starting tandem behind the plate for a long time in San Diego. Salas is only 17 and will surely need at least one full year more of minor-league baseball. It is unheard of to bring up a catcher at such a young age, but Salas is special.

A signing of Gary Sanchez would only be a temporary fix for the Padres behind the plate. Luis Campusano needs time to continue his improvement with his defense, and the only way to do that is by playing in games. The Padres cannot afford to give the lion’s share of starts to Sanchez at this point. A platoon would definitely be in order. It also appears the Padres will have problems re-signing Blake Snell, who is a free agent this winter. If Snell goes, then Sanchez may follow him out the door.

Then there is the fact the Padres are looking to save money. Campusano is still 25 and not due for arbitration until the 2026 season. He is under control inexpensively, and that is what the Padres need moving forward. They will have to save money somewhere on their roster. Signing Gary Sanchez would surely cost the Padres a couple of million dollars.


The verdict

It will come down to dollars and cents for the Padres. If they can find it in their budget to bring back the veteran catcher, they will do it.

However, the priority of signing Gary Sanchez is way down the line for San Diego this off-season. They have several questions moving forward. What do you do with Juan Soto, who will be a free agent after the 2024 season? Do you sign Josh Hader or Blake Snell, the Padres’ biggest free agents this winter?

Gary Sanchez will be 31 next baseball season. At his age, and with over 5,000 innings behind the plate, his number are indeed on a decline. The power potential will be there for the backstop, but can the Padres get anything else from the right-handed hitter? At this point, the team may look for a left-handed hitting platoon partner for Campusano and one with a higher pedigree with the glove. Though Sanchez was not horrible defensively behind the plate last season, a steadfast defender may help Campusano flourish even more with his skills.

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