The Mets announced that they have reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list and designated fellow backstop Gary Sánchez for assignment in a corresponding move.
Sánchez, 30, was selected to the Mets’ roster less than a week ago. He received seven plate appearances in three games, striking out in three of them and producing a slash of .167/.143/.167 in that tiny sample size. He wasn’t likely to stick around for very long anyway, since both Nido and Omar Narváez have been working their way back from injuries while rookie Francisco Álvarez is thriving with a .253/.316/.506 batting line.
Prior to joining the Mets, Sánchez had just become a free agent for the first time this past winter. However, he lingered on the open market until April, when he signed a minor league deal with the Giants. That deal came with an opt-out on May 1, which he eventually triggered after hitting just .164/.319/.182 for their Triple-A club. He fared much better after signing a minor league deal with the Mets, hitting .308/.514/.500 in Syracuse before getting called up and scuffling in the majors.
At this point, it’s tough to figure out what to make of Sánchez. He was once arguably the best offensive catcher in the league, hitting 53 home runs over 2016 and 2017 and slashing .283/.353/.567 for a wRC+ of 142. However, that came with concerns about his defense, tying for the lead league in passed balls with 16 in 2017 and then taking sole possession with 18 in 2018. More recently, his offense has fallen off but his defense has improved. With the Twins last year, he allowed just four passed balls and had roughly average defense but hit just .205/.282/.377 for a wRC+ of 89. This year, he’s been inconsistent, but it would be fair to wonder if all the bouncing from club to club made it hard for him to get into a consistent rhythm.
The Mets will now have a week to trade Sánchez or pass him through waivers. The deal they signed him to came with a prorated $1.5MM salary for the year, which amounts to about $1.1MM from his selection to the end of the season. They could try to eat some of that in order to facilitate a trade but he will most likely end up released, with the Mets still on the hook for that money. If that comes to pass, any of the 29 other clubs would be free to sign him and pay him the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the active roster, with that amount subtracted from what the Mets pay.
It’s been a while since Sánchez has been in peak form but there are plenty of teams throughout the league dealing with injuries to their catchers. Perhaps one or a few of them will be intrigued by the possibility of taking a chance on a Sánchez bounceback with essentially no financial risk.
For the Mets, this settles their catching situation for the time being. However, Narváez has recently started a rehab assignment and the club will have to decide what to do when he’s ready to return.