Padres catcher Gary Sánchez broke his right wrist during this afternoon’s loss to the Phillies, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters (including Annie Heilbrunn and Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune). In other unfortunate news, first baseman Ji Man Choi suffered a Lisfranc fracture when he fouled a ball off his right foot during a rehab game with Triple-A El Paso last night.
It’ll bring an unfortunate end to what had been a solid rebound season. The veteran backstop didn’t find a big league opportunity until mid-May. He’d bounced from the Giants to the Mets on minor league deals and earned a very brief look in Queens. The Mets waived Sánchez after three games, with San Diego claiming him to hopefully solidify their catching situation.
The 30-year-old has performed better than the Friars had likely anticipated. Sánchez slugged 19 home runs in only 267 plate appearances. Even with a meager .288 on-base percentage, the power production made him an above-average hitter. That’s particularly true in comparison to the glove-first position. Catchers entered play Wednesday with a .237/.304/.395 slash.
While Sánchez has been maligned for his glove throughout his career, public metrics rated him as a solid defender this season. He received slightly better than average grades from Statcast for his blocking and pitch framing. His 21.2% caught stealing rate is a little north of this year’s 20% league average.
That all positioned Sánchez nicely in a weak upcoming free agent class. He’s headed back to the open market in a couple months, arguably headlining a group that also includes Mitch Garver, Víctor Caratini and Tom Murphy. That could still be the case, but he’ll now unfortunately go into the winter with some injury uncertainty.
The Friars will turn to Campusano and Brett Sullivan as the catching tandem down the stretch. With that duo already on the MLB roster, they don’t need to call on another catcher as the corresponding move once Sánchez inevitably lands on the injured list. Campusano is hitting .309/.347/.491 in 35 games this season. The 24-year-old will look to stake a claim to the #1 job headed into 2024.
Like Sánchez, Choi will also go into free agency after a major injury. The left-handed hitting first baseman has had an injury-wrecked ’23 campaign. Choi lost most of the season’s first half with a strain in his left Achilles tendon. He returned to the Pirates in the middle of July, in time for Pittsburgh to send him to San Diego alongside Rich Hill in a deadline deal.
Choi only got into seven games for the Friars. He suffered a rib strain a month ago. The foot injury suffered on his rehab stint will end his season and, quite likely, his San Diego tenure. He’ll hit free agency for the first time coming off an almost entirely lost year, in which he hit .179/.239/.440 in 92 big league plate appearances.