The Tony Sanchez signing gives the Toronto Blue Jays added catching depth entering 2016, and we look at what that might mean for the organization
The Blue Jays signed Sanchez for a good reason; catcher depth.
In case of injury, the Blue Jays would be forced to rely on Josh Thole. The only problem is if he or Russell Martin get injured, or if he needed a day off (catchers tend to require one more frequently than other positions), who would replace him?
Not really a matter of ‘who is better’ right now but, rather, who could fill in the backup slot in the case of injury to either Thole or Martin. Of course, this will draw comparisons between Thole and Sanchez, and I think you could make a strong case for either side.
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Thole first of all, is an asset. Not because he swings it with the best of them, or because he is particularly good defensively (although I argue he is a decent defensive catcher). My main argument for Thole is that he can catch the knuckleball. Russel Martin took an absolute beating behind the plate catching Dickey for a portion of last year, which really wore on him later on in the season. He did a pretty good job, but the injury risk is apparent.
Sanchez, on the other hand, is also an asset. Having been selected fourth overall initially in 2009, he was always slated to stick at catcher. In his brief showing at the ML level he struggled against power arms, slashing .188/.257/.313 vs .298/.377/.404 for finesse pitchers. He does show some flashes of hitting well, and in 2015 began to show a much more patient approach at the plate. Defensively, he has a reputation as a great pitch framer, and like Russel Martin, will dive into dugouts and try to help his team in any way he can.
Overall, both catchers have their strengths, and it will be interesting to see who proves to show more usefulness to John Gibbons come spring training. It is likely that both will get a shot at the backup role, however it seems that Thole may be a favorite just due to R.A. Dickey still being a Blue Jay.
It is also worth noting that Sanchez does not have a spot on the 40 man roster, and due to the roster being full, someone needs to be released should we decide to play him in a MLB game. This depth move might seem small, but offers a lot more flexibility down the road.