The Blue Jays announced that they have signed former Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
Sanchez, who is represented by ACES, will compete for a backup role to Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin — a former Pirate himself. The 27-year-old Sanchez was selected fourth overall in the 2009 draft and saw time in parts of three big league seasons with the Bucs, batting a combined .259/.303/.378 with four homers in 155 plate appearances. Rated as one of baseball’s Top 100 prospects by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus in 2010-11, Sanchez’s bat stalled in the upper minors after he excelled at Class-A and Class-A Advanced. With parts of four seasons at Triple-A under his belt, the Boston College product has a .248/.342/.415 batting line at that level. He’s caught 22 percent of opposing base-stealers throughout his minor league tenure and 17 percent in the Majors. Baseball Prospectus, which keeps track of minor league framing numbers as well as Major League numbers, feels that Sanchez has been a generally above-average pitch-framer throughout his time at the Triple-A level.
Josh Thole currently projects to be Toronto’s backup catcher, and his familiarity with R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball perhaps gives him a leg up in any competition that could form in Spring Training. Sanchez will add to a relatively thin depth chart behind the plate for the Blue Jays, however, who currently have A.J. Jimenez and veteran Humberto Quintero in camp as big league alternatives or options at Triple-A Buffalo.