Could the Rays Acquire Giants Catcher Hector Sanchez?
By Robbie Knopf
The Rays’ current situation at the catcher position is far from ideal. Jose Molina‘s pitch-framing ability is prolific, but both offensively and in terms of the rest of his defensive game, Molina leaves much to be desired. The rest of the Rays’ catchers, Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos, and Chris Gimenez, have their moments, but it seems that even in the best-case scenario, the Rays are going to be a noticeably below-average team at the catcher position. With that being the case, the Rays will have to consider making a trade to upgrade at catcher. Could a possible trade partner for them to do just that be the San Francisco Giants? No, Buster Posey isn’t going anywhere, but could the Rays deal for Giants backup Hector Sanchez?
Baily Deeter of Golden Gate Sports discussed the possibility of the Giants trading Sanchez, with the Rays specifically being a fit. Sanchez, who will turn 23 in a couple weeks, had a nice season as Posey’s primary backup, posting a .280/.295/.390 line with 15 doubles, 3 homers, and 34 RBI in 74 games and 227 plate appearances. The Rays would love to have a catcher that could hit at all. However, you can discern from Sanchez’s on-base percentage exactly what his first key problem is: a complete lack of patience. On the season, Sanchez struck out 52 times against just 5 walks. Even in his last full season in the minors, which he split between High-A and Triple-A, Sanchez posted a .285/.328/.452 line with 71 strikeouts against 24 walks, although with 23 doubles, 12 homers, and 84 RBI. Sanchez has nice pure hitting ability and even some pop, but his lack of patience severely limits we he can do offensively at this point. Defensively, Sanchez does have a strong arm, throwing out 34% of attempted basestealers in the minor leagues, but his receiving ability and the overall fluidity of his actions need work as he threw out just 23% of attempted basestealers in the big leagues in 2012 while ranking 4th in the National League with 7 errors as a catcher. Then you have to take into account that Sanchez is not exactly the most athletic catcher you’ll find, coming in at 5’11”, 225, something that does not bode well for him moving forward, especially as he ages. Marc Hulet of Fangraphs dropped a Jose Molina comp on Sanchez, and that is not the type of player the Rays are dying to acquire. Sanchez has a couple nice tools in his pure hitting ability and his arm strength to go along with decent power, but his plate discipline and defense need quite a bit of work to give any chance of succeeding in the long-term as a big league starting catcher.
Sanchez is still young, and if he is traded it would make the most sense for the acquiring team to give him more seasoning at Triple-A. Sanchez has a big league season under his belt, but at the same time his flaws were so glaring that his big league experience doesn’t do much good to his value. Deeter suggested the Rays trade Chris Archer or Wade Davis for Sanchez, and neither of those trades make any sense at all because Archer has much higher upside than Sanchez and Davis is coming off an unbelievable year as a reliever, so it’s difficult to imagine the Rays trading either of them for Sanchez. Sanchez’s trade value is pretty low right now, and the highest I could see the Rays offering the Giants for Sanchez would be Cesar Ramos for Sanchez and another prospect. Ramos would give the Giants a lefty out of the bullpen and maybe even a solid starting candidate after the Rays converted him to a starting role at Triple-A this season, but the Giants would not be jumping at that trade on their end. Hector Sanchez is a solid player who the Rays may have some interest in this offseason, but their feelings for him are no more than lukewarm and their ambition to pursue him is not very high. The Rays will pursue every opportunity to improve their team, but this trade seems exceedingly unlikely to happen.