The Pittsburgh Pirates have unconditionally released Tony Sanchez today, per a team press release. They designated him for assignment last week to make room for Neftali Feliz on the roster. The team had ten days to trade, waive, or release him, and didn’t use the full ten days.

It’s unclear whether they had to release him because he would have been eligible for minor league free agency this off-season, or if they just decided to part ways with him. Either way, he didn’t have a spot in the system. Elias Diaz moved past him on the depth charts last year, and Jacob Stallings will probably serve as the backup for Indianapolis this year, with Ed Easley as the number three catcher, and number five on the MLB depth chart.

Sanchez was out of options, and would have been designated for assignment by the end of Spring Training if this didn’t happen now. If they would have been able to keep him around, he would have been eligible for free agency following the 2016 season, and would have blocked Stallings in the process, with the latter having more of a long-term role in Pittsburgh.

The move today means the Pirates have zero players in the system from their 2009 draft. You can read my analysis on that here.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. While 2009 can clearly be considered a failure with Holt, Sanchez, and Phil Irwin as the success stories, I actually think that the 2008 class would not be considered a failure with major leaguers Alvarez, Mercer, and Wilson combined with fringe players Hague, Grossman, and d’Arnaud. it certainly wasn’t what we were hoping for though …

  2. saying they didn’t have a spot for sanchez is really disingenuous Tim- he is still a better player than stallings, so he would have that spot as the backup catcher if he stayed around, at least that’s how i see it.

    • Stallings paired well with Glasnow at Altoona. Framing and throwing to the bases. Hopefully he will improve his hitting as he progresses.

      • from what i’ve read and heard, stallings has little projection offensively which means he is a little used backup at the ML level. At this point in their careers (2016) Sanchez is more useful than Stallings- since it doesn’t hurt us to keep Sanchez around and use him for catching depth in preseason now that he is off the 40 man, why don’t you wait until after spring training to release him? I know he wasn’t going to make the team, but injuries still occur in spring training and keeping him around is only the smart thing to do. If someone can explain to me any business or baseball sense it makes to release him vs. sending him to AAA and using him for camp and spring training and as an insurance policy against catching injuries, i’m open for debate.

    • Easley+Diaz makes room for Sanchez really tough, and he’s really not clearly better than Stallings at this point…certainly not so much better that you’d take the 30 year old over the 26 year old.

      Unless they release Easley or carry 3 catchers at Indy, you could see Stalling repeat in Altoona while Diaz carries the bulk of playing time in Indy with Easley being a veteran backup.

    • Yeah, I’d have to agree with Luke here…Tony Sanchez isn’t a usable baseball player at this point. Organizational filler.

      He’s a man without a position. Bats too light for 1B, glove can’t cut it at catcher. Doesn’t mean the talent isn’t there to be more than Stallings, but the latter is a guy you can call up and play serviceable defense in the event of another Catchergeddon; the former isn’t. At least not at this point.

      • I respect both of your opinions- but I think he’s at worst a #3 depth catcher in most organizations in baseball, few would have him rated behind stallings. If i’m wrong i’m wrong, but I would think it would be hard to prove that i am based off performance as a whole

        • Think of it like like comparing Pedro Alvarez to Sean Rodriguez as first basemen only.

          Based on performance as a whole, Alvarez is clearly the better player yet Rodriguez was the guy they trusted more because Alvarez’s defense became unplayable. Tony Sanchez is probably the better baseball player, but even he himself has admitted that the club (rightfully) lost trust in his ability to play the position at the highest level.

          There’s certainly a lot of grey area here and I can understand others having a different opinion, but that’s as clear as I can think to put it.

          • That’s a really good summation NMR- and I never disagreed with that…..I just don’t see why you don’t use him until spring training is over or in case of a string of injuries in spring training, he is a decent insurance policy. Why not wait to release him until the end of March.

  3. The thing that is interesting is that so far all the comments are about Sanchez and not one about the 2009 draft.

    • Lousy class…you could argue Melancon is here because of Holt…maybe.

      2008 wasn’t much better, it yielded Mercer and, by circumstance, Cervelli.

      2007 was meh, 50 picks yielded Watson.

      2006? All that really developed was Hughes.

      2010 has Taillon and Kingham remaining as the only guys who have a shot at contributing.

      The Pirates had a really unproductive run there for awhile.

        • I’d expect Taillon to be good-to-very good in time, and maybe Kingham will be a solid 3/4 starter.

          If so, the 2005-2010 drafts yielded two great pitchers, one so-so, a decent MI, a stud OF’er, and some relievers…

          Even if you only consider the 10 ten picks in a draft as the only guys who have a chance to contribute, I don’t know that that’s quite the return you’d want on 60 high picks…especially when 5/6 years the Pirates had a top-4 pick.

          • Far and away the biggest area of potential improvement in the org.

            Amateur scouting should’ve been gutted long ago.

            • Yeah, I haven’t been blown away by the last couple of seasons…of course, to be fair, that may be because they’ve drafted so much lower than the team has for quite awhile.

              But, that considered, high-contact, no power middle infielders don’t get me all squishy inside. With any luck, an arm or two from each draft will develop…but I’m not seeing a ton of hitting upside from the last two years outside of Hayes (off the top of my head).

              Conversely, I look at a team like Houston and am totally jealous…until they start trading away everything they have…

              • See for me it’s never been logic or intent that I’ve questioned; I thought targeting high upside pitching early on was smart, and then when the TJ epidemic hit and their draft position fell I thought focusing on high floor athletes with hit over power was smart.

                It’s always been the *execution* I’ve questioned, which of course is the hard part. Any idiot like me can sit on the internet and come up with a flawless draft plan, it’s the ability to roll that out in the form of real, tangible players that is difficult.

                Particularly on the pitching side, I think Benedict’s wild success turning around *Major League* pitchers – guys with previous success proving them to be Major League talent – shows that the development system isn’t at fault. Give them talent, they give you back a successful pitcher. If you buy that logic, then the extreme failure rate of drafted arms to this point can only mean one thing; they were never talented enough in the first place. Scouting, not development failure.

            • The thing we all need to keep in perspective is that Nutting bought the team and brought Huntington in as GM is 2007. At that point the franchise was in such terrible shape that deciding on the best course of action to rebuild the team probably took a whole year of debate simply to come up with a plan. Yes, Mike Trout, Shelby Miller, Zack Wheeler and A.J. Pollock were taken after Sanchez but the scouting report on Sanchez at the time was that his D was legit and his bat needed to catch up. He turned into the exact opposite but if his catching ability would have continued to be strong as was projected, he’d be a solid MLB player. Everybody misses sometimes.

              • The pick was ridiculed at the time as a reach and a signability move. Sanchez simply did not merit the 4th overall pick.

            • Would you agree that the international scouting has been much better delivering major league assets and upper level prospects?
              It does make the amateur draft and development of those picks look weak in comparison.

              • I’d say it’s a little from Column A, a little from, Column B, etc.

                They’ve gotten a few good draft picks, a few good international signings, a few good reclamation projects, and a few good trades.

                It’s definitely added up to build a winning organization…but, I think, they’re far from spectacular in any one area.

              • I know that’s the prevailing thought, but I’m not sure if I necessarily agree.

                In my mind, it could very well be a convergence of timing as much as anything. Marte was signed in 2007; Diaz in 2008; Polanco/Hanson in 2009. That’s undoubtedly a heck of a run, but that’s still quite possibly only two major league regulars and since then only Harold Ramirez and Yeudy Garcia look like legitimate prospects.

                When you’re talking about a process that forces you to scout 14/15 year old kids and the majority of your success is bundled around one small period, I’m not sure I can comfortably call that a definitive advantage.

            • Why wasn’t it? Too hard to identify quality scouts willing to change organizations? Not a priority for money?

              • We obviously can only speculate, but in my opinion it probably has something to do with two things; their focus on analytics, and their propensity for rank and file promotions.

                From what I’ve seen, they’ve shown little initiative in going outside the organization for important scouting hires, instead choosing to promote from within. This obviously has the likelihood of perpetuating bad habits. And while I’m sure they *think* they’re giving traditional scouting enough focus, their clear and warranted affection towards analytics may skew their perception of what it really takes to put a successful crew of scouts on the ground.

      • ’11 and ’13 really seem like the only chances of getting anything but role players and C-prospect trade pieces.

  4. This is a both sides moving on situation. Sanchez can stay and have maybe a 20% chance of playing in the mlb this year or leave and maybe give himself a little better shot…plus when you have the yips and your career stalls a change of scenery is usually best for everyone.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think the Pirates had the option to “not release him” after 10 days. This is doing him a favor as he can now sign onto a different org and be in camp in two weeks. I don’t think he will lack in interested teams and will probably get a NRI and a fruit bouquet as a signing bonus. Actually he might make a lot more money too as a AAAA ringer somewhere.

  6. Sanchez strikes me as someone who just lost confidence.

    The window seems to have closed on his being a ML catcher, but I think he still has a serviceable bat. Hopefully, with a change of scenery, he can develop into a decent utility role in the majors.

  7. Hmm…I’m admittedly not the most knowledgeable about roster decisions, but I don’t think it would have been overly harmful to keep him in the system if he was off the 40-man roster. He’s been disappointing but not unbelievably terrible. Send him to AAA as a bench bat and move him around the diamond to see if he has any future as a back-up 1B/5th OF/emergency C.

    • I always though his bat was MLB ready. It would have been nice to see what he could have done with that bat at the MLB level over the course of an entire season. The catching, though, is what did him in. I just get the feeling that he wasn’t that receptive to moving off the catcher position. Maybe I’m wrong about that. As far as I’m concerned, he should have been given a crack at the RH platoon portion at 1B at some point rather than Gaby Sanchez. Catchers tend to be able to pick up playing other positions better than most, look no further than Craig Biggio (C to 2B / OF), Todd Zeile (C to 3B to 1B) and Neil Walker (C – 3B – 2B). Even Jason Kendall played a bit of OF for the Pirates.

      • That’s what I was saying. He still has that prospect pedigree, and he’s not old and on the downside of his career. If he clears waivers, outright him to Indy and utilize him as long as you can.

        • The Pirates have a crowded Indianapolis roster as it is. They signed catcher Ed Easley, who is basically Sanchez with better defense. Elias Diaz will get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate and he’s well ahead of Sanchez at this point. Then you have Jacob Stallings, who is well ahead of Sanchez on defense, and has shown at times that he can hit a little(plus he’s 1 1/2 yrs younger than Sanchez).

          There was no room for him at first base obviously with Bell/Goebbert/Osuna, plus Sanchez tried first base before and that experiment didn’t last long. He had a .684 OPS this year for Indy and since he was released, that means he had no trade value and wasn’t worth a 40-man spot as a waiver pickup. He played himself out of a spot

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