The Pittsburgh Pirates are down their starting catcher heading into the 2024 season. Endy Rodríguez will miss the entire year following elbow surgery earlier in the offseason.
As it currently stands, the Pirates’ catching depth on the 40-man roster includes Henry Davis, Jason Delay and Ali Sánchez. Even with three catchers in the mix, it appears the Pirates are at least exploring the possibility of adding another.
According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Pirates have interest in catcher Gary Sánchez. Here’s what Murray had to say on The Baseball Insiders livestream on YouTube:
“Gary Sánchez is a name of interest for the Pirates. I don’t believe anything is close, but he is someone that they do like.”
Murray added that the rest of Sánchez’s market is unclear, but he would be a fit for the Pirates.
The 31-year-old impressed during a 72-game stint with the San Diego Padres last season. He slugged 19 home runs and drove in 46 runs despite the fairly-limited playing time. Sánchez slugged .500 and posted a .792 OPS (111 wRC+) on the year.
Sánchez spent the first seven seasons of his career with the New York Yankees, where he totaled 538 games and made two All-Star appearances. Sánchez was teammates with new Pirates’ reliever Aroldis Chapman from 2016-21, so there is certainly familiarity in a potential battery.
While Sánchez revitalized his career at the plate last season after a down stretch from 2020-22, his improvement defensively is perhaps even more impressive.
In 2021, his last season with the Yankees, Sánchez recorded minus-10 defensive runs saved. The following season while with the Minnesota Twins, he was positive in the category for the first time since 2018 with one DRS. Last season in San Diego, Sánchez finished with a career-best seven DRS.
According to Statcast, Sánchez was an above-average pitch framer last season and was in the 86th-percentile when it came to pop time.
If the Pirates were to bring him aboard, it would be interesting to see how they would split reps between Sánchez and Davis behind the plate.
A potential addition of his services would give the Pirates’ lineup some needed thump after finishing last season 28th in baseball with 159 homers. His vastly-improved defense would be an added bonus.
In his nine-year career, Sánchez has slashed .225/.309/469 with 173 home runs and 448 RBIs in 741 games.