Precious metal: Sánchez, who’s been with the White Sox organization since 2009, just won his first Gold Glove Award. What will his role be, if any, in the White Sox organization for 2020? (@CarlosSan29)
“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:
- Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
- Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
- Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
- Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
- Free agent options at that position
How did he get here?
It’s hard to believe, but Sánchez has been in the White Sox organization since 2009, the year the Venezuela native received an international signing bonus from the team as a 17-year-old (of course, back then, he was known as “Carlos”). Sánchez received his first taste of professional ball in 2010 with the DSL White Sox, and showed off his potential by walking 41 times (as opposed to 26 strikeouts) in 52 games. The 2011 campaign saw Sanchez begin with Bristol, although he played the vast majority of the season with Kannapolis and fared well by slashing .288/.341/.345 in 63 games.
The 2012 season was pivotal for season, as he slashed an impressive .323/.378/.403 for the organization’s top three affiliates while playing his usually high standard of defense. He struggled with the bat in his first full season with Charlotte the following year, as he slashed just .241/.293/.296 in 112 games. Sánchez bounced back nicely in 2014, however, as he slashed .293/.349/.412 in 110 games with Charlotte, which earned him his first trip to the majors, where he struggled in 100 at-bats.
Sánchez began the 2015 season again with Charlotte, but after beginning the year with a .344/.368/.466 line in 29 games, earned a longer trip to the majors, where he again struggled — this time slashing just .224/.268/.326 in 120 games. The Charlotte-to-Chicago train kept running for Sánchez in 2016, as he split the season nearly equally with both teams with decent but uninspiring results.
The 2017 season was Sánchez’s best to date, as he slashed .267/.319/.413 in 141 games as a third baseman with 19 doubles, eight triples, 12 homers, 59 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 35 walks (6.6%) and 111 strikeouts (20.8%). His production slipped a bit in 2018, however, as he slashed .242/.306/.372 in 155 games with 34 doubles, a league-leading 10 triples, eight homers, 55 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 49 walks (7.4%) and 138 strikeouts (20.8%).
With the White Sox in 2019
With budding superstar Yoán Moncada switching to third base, Sánchez moved to his more natural position at second. After struggling defensively at the season’s outset, Sánchez improved his glovework enough to win a Gold Glove, which he richly deserved. After a terrible start offensively to begin the season, Sánchez finished the year by slashing .252/.318/.321 in 149 games with 20 doubles, four triples, two homers, 43 RBIs, five stolen bases, 44 walks (7.9%) and 117 strikeouts (21.1%). Sánchez fared far better as a right-handed hitter (.292/.348/.392) than a lefty (.239/.309/.298). Weirdly enough, Sánchez did much better in night games (.282/.342/.347) than during the day (.208/.283/.282). He also posted respectable numbers with RISP, as he hit .282 in those situations. What’s not mentioned in Sánchez’s stats are his charisma and childlike enthusiasm, which are both infectious — especially for a younger club.
Unfortunately, his modest numbers on offense somewhat negated Sánchez’s defense. Even with the lack of significant offensive production, however, Sánchez still supplied the team with a 2.1 bWAR. Considering that each WAR point is worth approximately $7.7 million on the free agent market per FanGraphs, Sánchez still proved an impressive $11.545 million value when considering his 2019 salary was $4.625 million. Of course, this doesn’t even include his off-the-field value to the team.
What does the future have in store?
This is where things get tricky. First-rounder Nick Madrigal seems slated to play significant time at second base this year, which would essentially relegate Sánchez to reserve status. MLB Trade Rumors estimated Sanchez’s 2020 post-arbitration salary at $6.5 million, which would make him a great bargain if he were a starter; as a reserve, there’s no way to expect that Sánchez would finish next year anywhere close to a 2.0 WAR. When you add in the fact that Danny Mendick (not to mention Leury García) could fill that infield utility role at significantly less cost, Sánchez could be looking for a new home in 2020.
Even if the White Sox non-tender Sánchez, it’s possible that both parties could negotiate a smaller deal — especially if the team believes that Mendick wouldn’t quite be ready for full-season major league duties. As a player who’s actually been in the White Sox organization longer than anyone else, it would be nice to see Sánchez contribute —even if it’s just as a reserve infielder — to a winning team for a change.