Signing Ali Sanchez
The Pirates signed Ali Sanchez as one of the first moves of their off-season. At the time, it was a strange move. They signed a backup catcher to a minor league deal when they had Endy Rodriguez and Jason Delay on the roster and wanted to get Henry Davis more reps behind the dish in 2024. But it made more sense once Endy underwent Tommy John surgery.
Sanchez spent the entirety of the 2023 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team. He batted .311/.375/.495 with a .382 wOBA. However, don’t be fooled by these numbers. These were only slightly above average in the high-octane offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League where the league average triple-slash is .272/.369/.453. When adjusting for the rest of the league and other park factors, Sanchez came out to a wRC+ of 108.
One thing that Sanchez did do to a well above average level was limit strikeouts. His 15.% K% was significantly better than the league average rate of 21.8%. However, his 9.7% walk rate was well below the league average rate of 12.3%.
Although he has never been much of a hitter throughout the minor leagues, he’s always been regarded as a solid defensive backstop. Although there are no framing numbers, he only allowed two passed balls in 427.2 innings and caught 42% of would-be base stealers.
Sanchez has bounced around Triple-A with the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, and D-Backs. He hasn’t appeared in the bigs since 2021. His big league experience is fairly limited. He only has seven games and 14 plate appearances under his belt. He is expected to be the secondary backstop to Henry Davis. It probably won’t be an upgrade, nor will it likely be a downgrade from Jason Delay.