Is Gary Sánchez's new number with Padres an Aaron Judge tribute?

May 19, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets catcher Gary Sanchez (33) during batting
May 19, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets catcher Gary Sanchez (33) during batting / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Sánchez has joined the San Diego Padres ... juuuuuuust in time for their local television network to stop carrying games.

The Pads are Sánchez's third franchise of 2023, after short stints in the minors with the Giants and Mets, as well as a quick cameo with the big-league club in Flushing.

Now, he'll try his hand in San Diego, where the Offseason Champion Padres have struggled mightily to find a rhythm this season, employing a series of Yankees castoffs in an effort to uncover depth (Rougned Odor, why not?).

The Padres' biggest vacancy is behind the plate, where Austin Nola has not been the type of catcher they thought he'd be when they traded for him (in addition to their farm system being thin at the position). Their latest attempt to find a backstop is a bat-first swing, though Sánchez provided below-average offensive production in 2022 with the Twins. Then again, anything's better than Nola's 25 OPS+.

Based on the transaction wire, Sánchez has a trick up his sleeve for uncovering some offense, too; he's the first Padres player in team history to wear No. 99, which has to be an Aaron Judge-inspired choice.

Former Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez misses Aaron Judge

Clearly, his association with Judge is more positive than his relationship to Joe Girardi, who roasted him on a Cubs broadcast last week for ... funsies, I guess.

Sánchez's top prospect pedigree has worn off, and he has never again reached the heights he did in 2017, when he bashed 33 home runs in 122 games and starred in Game 4 of the ALCS with a late tiebreaking double. The slugging catcher had moments in 2018 in Boston and made the All-Star team again in '19, but slumped tremendously by the end of that season to finish with a 119 OPS+ and came under fire for not legging out the final out of a controversial game in Tampa.

Good for a catcher? Absolutely. As good as was foretold? Nope. During his time in New York, though, fans didn't allow Sánchez to be more than one thing. He was either an irreplaceable force or a gaffe-covered mess. In reality, our expectations got tweaked by his debut, and while he maintained his prodigious power, his all-around game and situational hitting never matched his previously believed potential.

Hopefully, he'll be more Judge and less jury in San Diego.