No catcher has played in 100 major league games in his age-22 season since Brian McCann in 2006. Hector Sanchez probably won’t be the next — actually, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez figures to pull off the feat if he stays healthy this season — but he is bidding to make the Giants as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter at age 22.
The switch-hitting Sanchez homered from both side of the plate after coming off the bench Sunday against the Mariners, giving him three homers and eight RBI in 14 at-bats for the spring.
Even before his outburst, the Giants were giving a lot of thought to carrying Sanchez. As things stand now, both of their best bench bats — Brandon Belt and Mike Fontenot — are lefties, as are the regulars they’re most likely to want to pinch-hit for (shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Nate Schierholtz). They definitely need a better righty stick than Ryan Theriot’s to combat lefty relievers late in games.
That’s where Sanchez could step in. And if he hits, then the Giants would feel a lot better about giving Buster Posey one or two starts per week at first base. The Giants have Eli Whiteside penciled in as Posey’s backup, but Sanchez would be a more intriguing option to start those games when Posey slides over.
One would think that’d have to play into a decision to keep Sanchez. He’s still too young and too raw to be limited to a couple of starts per month and the handful of extra at-bats he’ll get as a pinch-hitter. He’d be better off in the minors if he’s not occupying a significant role in San Francisco.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).