Former first round draft pick Tony Sanchez was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, and could make sense for the Yankees to bring in as Brian McCann's backup if they feel that catching prospect Gary Sanchez would be better off playing every day at Triple-A. Although Sanchez (Tony, not Gary) has always been fairly adept at hitting, the biggest knock on his game is that he was never able to put it together behind the plate.
After trading John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for Aaron Hicks, the Yankees' backup catcher spot was seemingly left to a competition between Sanchez (Gary this time) and Austin Romine. Sanchez had a resurgent season in 2014, making it to Triple-A and destroying the Arizona Fall League in his path. Romine, on the other hand, was made available to any team last offseason and found no takers. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal and there he remains. Romine has always been a dependable catcher defensively, but his bat is virtually non-existent. Having him back up McCann would likely be solid behind the plate and dreadful at the plate.
Giving Sanchez (Gary) the back up job would seemingly be a good alternative to Romine's total lack of bat, but relegating Sanchez to the bench doesn't seem like the greatest move for his continued development. He did have a fantastic season in 2014, but was fairly mediocre before that, and there are certainly still things for him to work on to improve his game. Sending him to Triple-A to start the year would hardly be the end of the world, and having an option better than Romine to serve as the back up would make that move even more palatable.
It is very likely saying a lot about Tony Sanchez that the Pirates kept giving other players chances at catcher over him, much like what the Yankees have done with Rob Refsnyder. Russell Martin, Chris Stewart (!!!), and Francisco Cervelli were all given opportunities ahead of the guy selected fourth overall in the draft. How dire must things be for Stewart to seem like a better option? The Yankees have made it a habit lately of bringing in guys who might be struggling or undervalued and turning them into something. The Diamondbacks didn't view Didi Gregorius as a starting shortstop, but the Yankees believed in his talent and he rewarded them by being one of the better shortstops in baseball in 2015. Nathan Eovaldi had the misfortune of being the National League pitcher who gave up the most hits in 2014 before the Yankees traded for him and he became their most reliable starter in the second half. Perhaps they could unlock Sanchez's potential as well under instruction from McCann and company.
Bringing in a guy like Sanchez isn't some game-changing move, but it would allow the Yankees to keep Gary Sanchez playing every day and improving his game. It would also give the Yankees a better bench bat than the total zero that Romine brings to the table. It seems like a no-brainer to at least kick the tires on such a deal. Would you like to see them give Tony Sanchez a shot to improve himself, or are you fine with the in-house options already available?