A little more than one week ago, the San Diego Padres claimed two-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets, hoping he would be an improvement over their in-house options. "I think it's an opportunity, and a low-cost acquisition, to see if we can upgrade the catching spot and just change our mix for a little bit," GM A.J. Preller told MLB.com at the time.
An upgrade to the catching spot Sánchez has been. Wednesday afternoon, Sánchez swatted his fourth home run in his ninth game with the Padres, this one a three-run homer against Seattle Mariners righty George Kirby (SD 10, SEA 3). To the action footage:
Only Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Shohei Ohtani have hit as many home runs as Sánchez since he joined the Padres on May 30. Sánchez is the first Padres player with four homers in an eight-game span since Jake Cronenworth in July 2021, and he's the first Padres catcher with four homers in an eight-game span since Austin Hedges back in April 2017.
Sánchez went 2 for 5 with a double and the three-run homer Wednesday, and owns a .310/.375/.793 line in nine games as a Padre. He's reached base safely in all but one of his eight starts, and San Diego even used him as the DH twice to keep his bat in the lineup. In the games he's caught, the Padres have posted a 1.89 ERA. Things couldn't be going better for Sánchez in San Diego.
"I'm excited to be able to join a clubhouse that has so many superstars, a lot of talent on this team. A tremendous team, so I'm just excited to help," Sánchez told MLB.com after joining the Padres. "... Whatever the team needs from me, that's what I'm here to do."
To be sure, Sánchez didn't need to come out of the gate as well as he has to be an upgrade behind the plate. San Diego's catchers -- Luis Campusano, Austin Nola, Brett Sullivan -- hit a combined .160/.233/.253 before Sánchez arrived. The Padres had the worst batting average, the worst on-base percentage, and the worst slugging percentage among catchers at the time.
The Padres are Sánchez's third organization in 2023. He signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants in April, spent a month in their system before opting out of his contract, then joined the Mets. Sánchez played eight Triple-A games with the Mets before being called up. He went 1 for 6 in three games with the big league team before being placed on waivers.
Now 30, Sánchez spent the majority of his career with the New York Yankees. He went to the All-Star Game in 2017 and 2019 and hit .247/.329/.518 with 105 home runs in 370 games during his peak from 2016-19. The Yankees traded Sánchez to the Minnesota Twins as part of the Josh Donaldson/Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade last March.
The Padres have won five of Sánchez's first nine games with the team, and they scored a total of four runs in the four losses. San Diego is 29-33 on the season following Wednesday's win. They are 7.5 games out in the NL West and 3.5 games behind the third and final National League wild-card spot.