I don't know about the Sony. But a dedicated SACD player will out do the universal players. I performed a A/B on Marantz 7600 and SA8260. Ended up with the SA8260 without any questions.
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A dedicated SACD player, in your price range, will typically sound very good with SACD's and acceptable with redbook CD's. The SONY 595 would be for SACDs what your Panasonic 97 is for DVD-A. At $100, the SONY is hard not to like and SONY seems to have gotten past some of the production issues that it had with the player since it was introduced over a year ago. Aren't you running out of equipment rack space yet?