Judge’s Gary Sanchez prediction turns true, ex-Yankee back in MLB with Mets

Gary Sanchez at Triple-A Syracuse Mets.

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As Gary Sanchez made his move to the Giants on March 31, Aaron Judge predicted his quick MLB return to the major leagues. However, what the Yankees’ slugger didn’t anticipate was that Gary Sanchez’s comeback would take place right within New York but across town.

The New York Mets added veteran catcher Gary Sanchez to their big league roster after signing him to a minor league deal on Friday. Michael Perez, another catcher, was sent down to Triple-A in a matching move. The Mets have improved their active roster in preparation for their next game against the Rangers with the inclusion of Sanchez. Sanchez will serve as the team’s senior backup catcher with youngster Francisco Alvarez, and he will also assist as a designated hitter.

Earlier this month, Gary Sanchez, 30, exercised his opt-out clause in his minor-league contract with the Giants, making him a free agent. He joined the Mets on May 9 and becoming a part of their organization.

Gary Sanchez was able to depart the Mets on Friday because of an opt-out provision in his contract. However, the team decided to elevate him because of his recent stellar play. While Gary Sanchez’s .672 OPS in 23 games in Triple-A this season isn’t very impressive, it has increased greatly since he was signed by the Mets. He has a .318/.531/.546 slash line with a home run, two doubles, and eight walks in seven games with Triple-A Syracuse.

Since his best seasons with the Yankees, Gary Sanchez has steadily declined. Between the years of 2016 and 2019, he showed his brilliance by being named to the All-Star Game twice and hitting 122 OPS+ home runs 105 times in 370 games. However, his OPS+ of 89 in the previous three seasons shows that he has seen a severe and early drop.

Gary Sanchez’s New York return

It’s fantastic to be back in the city, Gary Sanchez told expressing his happiness at returning to New York after spending five years with the Yankees.

During his time in Syracuse, Gary Sanchez recorded an impressive batting average of .308, along with one home run, five RBIs, nine walks, and 10 strikeouts in eight games. According to his contract, the catcher is entitled to a $1.5 million salary while playing in the major leagues. Throughout his 37 plate appearances with Syracuse, starting from May 9, Gary Sanchez maintained an outstanding OPS of 1.014.

In 2016, he made a significant impact by hitting 20 home runs in just 53 games, showcasing his power right from the start. He continued his impressive performance in the subsequent year, hitting 33 home runs in his first full season in the major leagues.

Gary Sanchez blasted 34 home runs in 2019, but he struggled mightily in both 2018 and 2020. Therefore, the Yankees decided to send him to the Twins in a March 2022 deal. Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt were traded to the Twins for Sanchez and Gio Urshela.

During his time with the Yankees, Gary Sanchez earned All-Star Game selections in both 2017 and 2019. In 2016, he achieved a batting average of .299 accompanied by 20 home runs, while in 2017, he maintained a .278 average with 33 home runs and 90 RBIs.

In 2018, his batting average plummeted to .186, and in the shortened 2020 season, he struggled further, hitting just .147 in 49 games. However, there was improvement in 2021 as he raised his average to .204 and recorded 23 home runs along with 54 RBIs.

In March 2022, the Yankees made a trade with the Minnesota Twins, sending Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela in exchange for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt. During his time with the Twins last year, Gary Sanchez played in 128 games, making 80 starts as a catcher. He posted a batting average of .205, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 61 runs. This offseason there were rumors of him returning to the Bronx.

Gary Sanchez expressed his belief that with good health and the opportunity to play baseball, one can achieve many positive outcomes. Mets manager Buck Showalter praised him as a good teammate who showed great effort and dedication.

After going unsigned during the offseason, Gary Sanchez reached an agreement with the San Francisco Giants, signing a minor league contract that included a $4 million salary if he made it to the 40-man roster. However, his performance in Triple-A Sacramento was underwhelming, batting .164 with no home runs, eight RBIs, one double, 11 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 55 at-bats. With a May 1 opt-out clause in his contract, he was released on the following day. Shortly after, on May 9, he joined the Mets by signing a new minor league contract.

Buck Showalter has said that he appreciates the work of the Yankees, Minnesota, and San Francisco with regard to Gary Sanchez. He admitted that the aforementioned clubs lacked the roster depth to sign the catcher. Showalter highlighted that the Mets have created a place for him and are excited to see what he can provide to the club.

Why the Mets need Gary Sanchez

The Mets have adopted a catcher tandem strategy, utilizing rookie Francisco Alvarez alongside veteran Tomas Nido. The latter is currently undergoing treatment for dry eye syndrome and will soon begin a rehab assignment in Single-A. Although Alvarez shows great potential for the future, the Mets have faced challenges in obtaining consistent production from the catcher position in the 2023 season.

Compounding the worries is the absence of free-agent acquisition Omar Narváez from the Mets’ lineup. Narvaez suffered a calf strain in the early stages of the season, and his potential comeback is still several weeks away.

It appears that the Mets are taking a calculated gamble by adding Gary Sanchez to their roster, considering it as a situation with limited risk but potentially high rewards. The team has been struggling to generate runs in recent weeks, prompting them to acquire the catcher.

Gary Sanchez brings consistent statistics to the table, and the Mets are enthusiastic about having him on their roster with his batting line of .195/.287/.394, considering his previous stints with the Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

Notably, four years ago, Gary Sanchez had a standout performance as he earned a spot in the All-Star Game. During that season, he concluded with impressive numbers, including 34 home runs and an OPS of .841, while playing for the Yankees.

Yankees monitor Gary Sanchez

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Aaron Judge acknowledged Gary Sanchez’s remarkable talent and past accomplishments, emphasizing his exceptional hitting abilities and strong arms as a catcher. According to Judge, his skill set includes excellent control of the running game, which often goes unnoticed. He commended Gary Sanchez for his dedicated offseason preparation and highlighted his ability to consistently deliver competitive at-bats, including his proficiency in hitting to the opposite field. Overall, Judge described Gary Sanchez as a formidable and difficult player to face.

When they were at the peak of their careers, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were two of the most feared sluggers in baseball. These two power hitters typically found themselves in the middle of the Yankees’ batting order, where they could unleash their devastating hitting on any given day.

Gary Sanchez has faced numerous challenges and obstacles in his journey to return to the major leagues. He has had to endure a difficult path, striving to prove himself once again. Since joining the Mets on a minor league contract, he has been excelling at Triple-A Syracuse, showcasing his exceptional skills and performance. Judge is keeping a close eye on his former teammate.

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According to DJ LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez has the potential to excel at the major league level. LeMahieu considers the catcher to be a highly skilled player and a great person. He also expressed his desire to see Sanchez make a comeback in New York.

Additionally, LeMahieu mentioned that Gary Sanchez showcased his power by hitting an impressive 23 home runs in just 56 games during his initial stint with the Yankees in 2019. LeMahieu confidently attested to personally witnessing Sanchez’s remarkable performance and emphasized that, when in optimal health, Sanchez ranks among the elite hitters in the league.

Judge echoed LeMahieu’s sentiments, acknowledging that Gary Sanchez is ready to face the challenge and has a strong desire to return to the major leagues and make a significant impact on a team.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone too expressed his satisfaction with Sanchez’s return to the big leagues before Friday night’s game against the Reds. He mentioned being happy for the catcher and hoped that he would find success in his new stint.

Gary Sanchez has won the hearts of the Yankees because of his impressive work ethic. Boone acknowledged that there was no doubt about the Yankees’ positive feelings toward the catcher. He mentioned that Gary Sanchez was someone they all personally liked and highlighted his care for the team and his teammates.

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