Though Gary Sánchez quickly become one of the must frustrating New York Yankees players not too long after his loud and incredible introduction to MLB, fans were still rooting for him to resdiscover his form when he left the team via trade prior to the 2022 campaign.
Unfortunately, he continued to crater in Minnesota (.205 AVG, .659 OPS, 88 OPS+) and wasn't brought back. He couldn't find a home for 2023 and ended up bouncing around to various spots.
The Giants signed him to a minor-league deal in March, but he eventually exercised his opt-out clause in early May and was released. Then he landed with the Mets, tore it up at Triple-A, got the call to the bigs, and was released after three lackluster games.
Then the Padres came calling. They signed him to a major league deal as catcher Austin Nola completely lost his grip on the starting job, and Sánchez took the job and ran with it. In 72 games, he hit .218 with a .792 OPS, 117 OPS+, 19 home runs, 46 RBI and only 64 strikeouts. He was even worth 1.3 dWAR in a surprising twist. At one point, he was putting the Yankees to shame.
But Sánchez suffered a fractured wrist on Wednesday in what was a freak injury. He was hit by a pitch as he checked his swing and his season is now over.
Former Yankee Gary Sánchez's rebound season sadly ends with freak injury
The Padres have been one of the league's biggest letdowns in 2023, and Sánchez's contributions helped them avoid "unmitigated disaster" territory. He was also embraced by the fanbase, which is a huge win for the slugger after all he's been through.
Padres supporters want him back for 2024 and there's little reason for president of baseball operations AJ Preller not to consider it. Sánchez has experienced a revival, harnessing his power and burnishing his defensive skills, something Yankees fans were waiting years for.
It was nice to see Sánchez get back to his old ways, but it was also bittersweet because the Yankees were dealing with an offensive drought at the catcher position all year. Hopefully Austin Wells can fix that.
Seventy-two games of success might not be enough for Sánchez to earn long-term security, but he's bought himself a second chance to be an Opening Day starter somewhere in 2024.
The Padres remain the best destination for all parties. He's performed his best since 2019 in San Diego, which is far enough away from New York for Yankees fans to enjoy his good fortune without being directly impacted by it.