The Pittsburgh Pirates have officially announced the Neftali Feliz signing. In a corresponding move to make space on the 40-man roster, they have designated Tony Sanchez for assignment. Sanchez was the first round pick in 2009, in a move that was highly criticized at the time, and has been criticized endlessly ever since. The Pirates took Sanchez over one of the many prep pitchers available that year, opting for a signability pick that would allow them to spend money in the middle rounds. They spent that money on a lot of over-slot prep pitchers, with none of those guys working out.
Sanchez had the upside to be a strong defensive catcher and a potential starter with his offense. The irony of this is that his offense eventually clicked and became the strong part of his game, with his defense being the question mark. The specific question mark came with his throwing issues, which started up in 2012-13. This led to the Pirates turning to Russell Martin in 2013, and then led to them trading for Francisco Cervelli in 2015 when Martin left, with Sanchez never getting a chance to start due to his defensive issues.
The move to DFA Sanchez isn’t a surprise. He clearly moved behind Elias Diaz on the depth chart this year, when Diaz was called up in September, and Sanchez was left in the minors. He is out of options in 2016, and won’t make the MLB roster, as he is behind Diaz, Chris Stewart, and Cervelli.
There is a chance that the Pirates could keep Sanchez in the organization, although that seems unlikely. I’m guessing some team out there will claim him to give him a shot at being the backup catcher, or with hopes that he clears waivers and can be stashed as a number three. The Pirates have a strong situation behind the plate, so the fact that he wasn’t in the mix here doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be in the mix anywhere else. If he does clear waivers, and can be retained, then the Pirates could keep him around as additional depth. However, they project to have Jacob Stallings and Ed Easley as Triple-A depth, so Sanchez isn’t really needed for those purposes.