Tony Sanchez Doesn’t Have to Make the Opening Day Roster

When the Pirates traded for back-up catcher Chris Stewart, General Manager Neal Huntington said that he made the move because he wanted 26-year-old catcher Tony Sanchez to be able to continue his development by playing daily at AAA Indianapolis. In Pittsburgh, Sanchez would do little more than sit on the bench nearly everyday behind  starter Russell Martin.

However, when Stewart was put on the disabled list recently with a knee injury, Huntington announced that Sanchez would be the back-up to Martin. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a couple of freely available catchers who fit the job description that Stewart was brought in to fill.

Former Pirate catcher Chris Snyder was released by the Washington Nationals on Monday and is now a free agent. Snyder played in only 9 major league games last season, but, at AAA, he hit .273/.330/.477 — .807 OPS in 286 plate appearances.

In 2012, Snyder made 258 plate appearances with the Astros, hitting for just a .603 OPS. But over the last two years, his defense has been 2.9 runs above average, according to Fangraphs, in just over a half-season of playing time.

With the Pirates, in 2011, Snyder, who is now 33 years old, hit .271/.376/.396 — .772 OPS.

Another possibility for the Pirates is catcher Ramon Hernandez, who opted out of his minor league contract with the Royals on Sunday. The 37-year-old Hernandez had only 55 major league plate appearances last year, but he hit 3 home runs and had a .729 OPS.

In 2012, Hernandez posted a .600 OPS. But, like Snyder, he was good behind the plate. Over the past two seasons, Hernandez has been 3.3 defensive runs above average, as calculated by Fangraphs.

In 2011,  Hernandez’s last season as a regular, he hit .282/.341/.446 — .787 OPS in 328 plate appearances. Fangraphs rated him as 6.3 defensive runs above average that year.

Neither Snyder nor Hernandez are players that any team would want to rely on as an everyday catcher. But they are both very solid defenders, who are not incapable at the plate; and having one of them on the Pirates bench would give Tony Sanchez the daily playing time he needs at Indianapolis.

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9 thoughts on “Tony Sanchez Doesn’t Have to Make the Opening Day Roster

  1. I would like to see Sanchez start the season in MLB then go ahead down when Stewart is ready. Even though a backup catcher plays such a small role on a team’s war, I would like to see Sanchez (the better option) at catcher to get his feet more wet and provide above average defense and possibly spelling Martin more than maybe he would get if an old veteran on their last leg would be put in there. Similar to last season when the incumbent mckenry was sparingly used because he couldn’t hit or throw out a child stealing second.

    • Huntington has said that they are not going to sign another catcher, so, it looks Sanchez will be the back-up. I hope they do give him some playing time if he is going to be on the team.

      I believe that Snyder and Hernandez are still solid defensively.

      • I agree. The only reason I would want Sanchez up wih the team is if he does get regular playing time as the backup. This could be good news since the pirates seem to trust Sanchez, possibly more than one of those vets, to play good baseball and spell Martin to keep him fresh throughout he entire season. At the same time, I don’t want Sanchez up here for more than a month because he will be our starting Cather next year and he needs to be ready to carry he load.

  2. Btw, looks like Lambo won’t be starting the year with he big club after all. I’m surprised the Bucs look into spring training at bats so much. I’m sure if Lambo got some more at bats against triple a pitching, his slash line would be a bit better but also to judge on suh a small sample size is just silly. Looks like there is a potential for another moss or Batista situation. I like Lambo and was hoping he would get a shot. He has the most upside of all the potential guys at first but comes with significant risk. I’m sure Travis will put up similar numbers to jones’ line last season hiding by his career numbers.

    • Thanks for the news on Lambo. I hadn’t seen that yet. I think he will pound AAA pitching and make his way back to Pittsburgh this year.

      Ishikawa’s career numbers look like what Jones did last year.

  3. I think it’s time to find out if your Top 5 player of the 2009 draft can play or not. He will be 26 in May. According to Baseball Reference he has 1645 PA over 407 games in the minors. I’m not sure if any more time will help that much. Even if he just amounts to backup that fills a role.

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