Former All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez back in major leagues with Mets

NEW YORK (AP) — Former All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez is back in the major leagues, this time with the New York Mets.

Sánchez, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Yankees, joined the Mets Friday when his contract was selected from Triple-A Syracuse.

“It feels good to be back here in New York after all those years I was with the Yankees,” Sánchez said through an interpreter.

Sánchez, 30, hit .308 with one homer, five RBIs, nine walks and 10 strikeouts in eight games at Syracuse. His deal calls for a $1.5 million salary while in the major leagues.

“Good teammate, really got after it there,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said,

Unsigned during the offseason, Sánchez agreed to a minor league contract with San Francisco on April 1, a deal that called for a $4 million salary if he was added to the 40-man roster. Sánchez hit .164 (9 for 55) with no homers eight RBIs, one double, 11 walks and 19 strikeouts in 55 at-bats at Triple-A Sacramento. He had a May 1 opt-out provision, was released the following day and signed a minor league contract with the Mets on May 9.

“We’re very respectful of what the Yankees and Minnesota and San Francisco have tried to do,” Showalter said. “They also didn’t have room for him. So we’ll see. We made room and we’re going to take a look at it.”

Sánchez joins what could eventually become a crowded depth chart. Omar Narváez, signed as a free agent by the Mets to a $15 million, two-year contract, hasn’t played since April 5 because of a strained left calf.

Tomás Nido and rookie Francisco Álvarez have combined to hit .165 with four homers and 10 RBIs. Nido batted .118 (6 for 51) with one RBI but hasn’t played since May 5 because of dry-eye syndrome. Álvarez, who was in Friday’s lineup, is hitting .218 (17 for 78) with four homers and nine RBIs.

Nido started a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment on Friday at Class A St. Lucie. Michael Pérez, who went 4 for 7 in a pair of games, was optioned to Syracuse to make room for Sánchez.

“I hope we are here shortly with four healthy catchers — five, counting Michael,” Showalter said. “I wouldn’t (say it’s) a tryout or audition. He’s got a chance to play in the big leagues when it looked like it might not happen for him again. I think he understands that that opportunity (is) one he needs to take advantage of. I think that’s something that’s positive that we have going for us with this. The challenge for me now is to get him some opportunities to do that.”

Sánchez made the All-Star Game in 2017 and ’19 during a seven-year stint with the Yankees. He hit .299 with 20 homers in 2016 and .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs in 2017.

He batted .186 in 2018 and just .147 in 49 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He improved in 2021 to .204 with 23 homers and 54 RBIs.

New York traded Sánchez to Minnesota in March 2022 with Gio Urshela for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. Sánchez hit .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games for Minnesota last year while making 80 starts at catcher.

“As long as you’re healthy and as long as you have the opportunity to play baseball, you can do a lot of good things,” Sánchez said.

The Mets opened a spot on their 40-man roster by returning outfielder Tim Locastro from his rehab assignment and transferring him to the 60-day injured list because of a sprained right thumb.