The Los Angeles Angels have a catching situation that's far from certain. Max Stassi is coming off of a brutal season and Logan O'Hoppe has just 14 career MLB at-bats. Matt Thaiss hasn't really shown much with his chances either. With that in mind, the Angels have been in on the catching market. They were one of the finalists for Willson Contreras and now it appears they have their eyes set on a different catcher.
Hector Gomez reports that the Angels are showing a lot of interest in free agent catcher Gary Sanchez. Whether a deal will happen or not remains to be seen, but the interest is something that should be taken seriously.
The LA Angels are reportedly showing a lot of interest in Gary Sanchez.
Gary Sanchez at one point looked like he was going to be a superstar catcher for the New York Yankees. He got his first extended run in the bigs in 2016 and finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting despite only playing in 53 games. He hit 20 home runs in just 201 at-bats for the Yankees that season.
He followed that up by slashing .278/.345/.531 with 33 home runs and 90 RBI in 2017. He was an all-star, won a Silver Slugger, and even received some MVP consideration, finishing 22nd in the AL balloting.
Combining his 2016 and 2017 seasons he slashed .284/.354/.569 with 53 home runs and 132 RBI in 175 games. Just remarkable production, especially for a catcher. Unfortunately, 2017 was Sanchez's only elite season.
Since that 2017 season, he's slashed .202/.295/.427 with 101 home runs and 269 RBI. He's averaged 20 home runs and 54 RBI per season. The homers are solid, but he has just a 97 OPS+ in that span as he really turned into a true three outcome player where he homers, walks, or strikes out.
Gary even at this point would be an upgrade over what we last saw from Max Stassi. The Stassi from 2020 and 2021 however would blow Sanchez out of the water, so the Angels must not have faith in his bat at all, and I can't really blame them.
Sanchez was never a particularly great defender, his bat was why he was in the lineup. His framing was an issue as he ranked in the 17th percentile in 2021. He did work on this however and ranked in the 50th percentile in 2022 according to baseball savant.
I'd take Sanchez over Stassi, so the Angels showing interest makes sense. However, I don't think Stassi is very moveable at this point and a Sanchez signing would all but confirm that top prospect Logan O'Hoppe begins the season in the minors. While I don't believe the Angels should be rushing him, if he performs well in Spring Training I'd want him to be the catcher. I want the catcher spot to be his to lose, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
It's hard for a one-year deal to be bad, and that's what this would likely be. If Sanchez isn't great or O'Hoppe gives them a reason to call him up later in the season, Sanchez or Stassi would be released or traded.
Sanchez gives the Angels another bat that can provide 20+ home runs and if he replicates his average framing, the deal wouldn't be so bad.