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What Tony Sanchez’s September Might Tell You About His Future?


Much has been written about Tony Sanchez, the Pirates 1st round pick in 2009 draft. His roller coaster ride contains his “overdraft”, his Low A and High A dominance, his broken jaw, re-ascending prospect status, the Twitter celebrity-dom, being passed by Elias Diaz and Reese McGuire as the catcher in waiting, his feel good spring of this year, etc.

While it has been ups and downs for Sanchez, the ride of a catcher can last much longer than other positions. Good major league teams need a lot of catching depth and Tony Sanchez has a ceiling of a solid defensive catcher that has some pop in his bat. He also will be cheap for a long time, two of the three catchers in front of him (Cervelli and Stewart) are only under contract for 2016 and Elias Diaz and Reese McGuire aren’t hitting the cover off the ball. Sanchez still could have value for the Pirates.

Sanchez had a great spring this year and so when Chris Stewart injured his hamstring in Spring Training, Sanchez took the open spot on the Opening Day roster. When Stewart was healthy and rehabbed on April 17th he was recalled; Sanchez sent down to AAA. That means Sanchez accrued another 11 days of ML service time. Before the season Sanchez had accrued 0.142 ML service time. 0.142 means 0 full years and 142 days. Add in the 11 days in April and Sanchez is at 0.153.

What this means for Sanchez is that he is sitting 19 days short of completing the 172 days for one service year. For those of you not familiar with ML service time, our friends at Fangraphs explain it nicely here: ML Service Time

Sanchez also is “out of options” after this year meaning he no longer can remain on the 40 man roster and be in AAA. He’d either need to be on the major league roster or be designated for assignment. I think it’s pretty obvious based on his talent, his position and how cheap he is that the Pirates don’t want to DFA him. I think he’s actually being counted on to provide a starting option or a solid backup for the 2016-2021 seasons.

So would Huntington bring Sanchez up on September 1st and “burn” a year of control or will Sanchez not be brought up to keep him below the threshhold?

I bet Huntington waits until the middle of September and brings up Elias Diaz to have the extra catcher and keep a year of eligibility for Sanchez. People will assume this is because Sanchez will be traded or designated after the season, but I don’t think it’s the case. I think it will be due to the service time.

I also think Huntington will figure out a way roster Sanchez in 2016 so as to not lose this depth he’d love to have for the next few years. Huntington got burned on lack of catching depth in 2011 and it won’t happen again. My thought on the future of catching in Pittsburgh looks like this:








MLB Cervelli Cervelli Diaz Diaz Diaz McGuire/Diaz
Stewart Stewart Sanchez Sanchez Sanchez Sanchez
AAA Diaz Diaz* Valle McGuire McGuire*
Sanchez Valle Stallings Valle Gushoe
Stallings Krause
AA Stallings McGuire McGuire Gushoe
Valle Gushoe Krause


– I’d be shocked if McGuire didn’t need two years offensively in AA and AAA. He’s so young and body is so lean.

– Diaz could possibly be promoted in 2016, but it would be after June to prevent his Super Two status. Same with McGuire in 2019.

About Michael Bradley (43 Articles)
Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.
Contact: Twitter

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