February 28, 2013; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez (59) works out prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Piece

May 1, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Michael McKenry motions home run as he rounds the bases in the 7th inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

I love Michael McKenry as much as the next Pirates fan, he’s been a great locker room guy and is a fan favorite thanks to several clutch home runs and hits. The problem is that he doesn’t have a role on the Pirates anymore.

Russell Martin has been everything Pittsburgh dreamed he would be and a force at and behind the plate. He is hitting for an outstanding .283 average with 6 bombs. The Pirates’ pitching staff is also leading the league in opposing hitter’s average, 4th in ERA, and 4th in strikeouts. Martin also leads the MLB in thrown out runners.

May 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) returns the ball to the pitcher against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Washington Nationals won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The other issue is that McKenry is blocking one of the Pirates’ top prospects. Tony Sanchez, after a slow start, has been tearing up AAA. He now boasts a .303 average on the season with 3 dingers. The Pirates’ top pick in the 2009 began his pro career very strong but 2 jaw injuries derailed his fast track to the majors. Last season in AAA Sanchez only hit for a .233 avg and was on the verge of being labeled as a huge bust. Many saw him as a strong defensive catcher with little offensive upside. Now Sanchez is hitting for a high average and his highest slugging percentage since 2009. Sanchez can still be a big asset on this team with his defense and potential to be the Pirates’ starting catcher after Martin leaves.

Sanchez should be called up soon. He’s been down in the minors for 4 years now which is a long time for a college hitter. He’s always had the defense and the ability to call a great game and now with his offense turning around there is nothing holding him back. Russell Martin has been the catcher the Pirates’ have waited for since the departure of Jason Kendall.

With all that said there is no room for The Fort. The veteran catcher could be a nice piece in a potential trade, especially to an American League team. McKenry has the power and bat to be a solid DH or still be a quality role player for a team. McKenry paired with some other talent could fetch a nice return. It would be a sad day to see the player who twice lead comebacks agains the Reds leave, but if the price is right he becomes expendable.

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  • Matthew Glen Schnars

    I don’t think you trade for prospects and I don’t think Sanchez that great I tired of this owner always trading for prospects

    • Campbell Sproul

      Whether you think Sanchez is that great or not, the numbers are there. He’s playing incredibly high quality ball right now.

    • Tj Streib

      I’ve been a McKenry fan myself, but seeing 23-of-24 steal against him so far (making Barajas look like the future hall-of-famer the announcers & Hurdle CONSTANTLY tried to convince us he was!) I have to agree that it’s just about time for Tony Sanchez. He wasn’t drafted 1st round for nothing

    • http://twitter.com/rumbunter rumbunter

      This can happen anytime for me, I am ready to see Sanchez….

    • Tyler

      I wasnt even referring to just prospects, maybe land another hitter or pitcher for Pittsburgh to make a run but prospects do help. Look at what Stolmy is doing in AA from the Hanrahan trade. Sanchez would be used as a back up mainly anyways so he doesnt have to be great right off the bat

    • Campbell Sproul

      Any particular hitters of pitchers you’re thinking of? This is all pointless speculation at this point, but it’s a lot of fun.

    • Tyler

      yea at this point I’m really not sure, it’ll be interesting in a few weeks when we start seeing who is buying or selling and who is going to be on the market

  • steve

    Sanchez is inconsistent. McHenry throws out 18 pct of runners and hits well. If anything I wish we hadn’t spent so much on Martin.

    • Tyler

      Martin has been a beast this year and has been a monumental upgrade. Could not be happier with this signing