The San Francisco Giants have reportedly had internal discussions about possibly trading for Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald.
Sandoval, 30, spent the first seven seasons of his career in San Francisco, leading the team to three World Series championships (2010, 2012, 2014). Primarily a third baseman, Sandoval made two All-Star teams (2011, 2012) with the Giants, and from 2009-2014, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ averaged 17 home runs, 73 runs batted in.
However, after the 2014 campaign, Sandoval agreed to a lucrative five-year, $95 million deal with the Red Sox. Since leaving McCovey Cove for Yawkey Way, Sandoval has regressed to a below-average major league player.
— SF Giants on CSN (@CSNGiants) November 26, 2016
After slashing.245/.292/.366 with 10 HRs and 47 RBIs (75 wRC+) in 126 games for Boston in 2015, Sandoval’s weight and injuries dominated headlines. Consistently a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) machine, Sandoval registered the worst WAR (-2.0) of his career in 2015, per FanGraphs. He also experienced a negative trend in his batting average on balls in play (.270), strikeout rate (14.5 percent), and walk rate (5.0 percent).
Just three games into the 2016 campaign — after losing the starting role at third base in Spring Training — Sandoval underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
“I don’t think it is a value-enhancement exercise,” a source told the Herald. “Clearing money, signing one of the (free agents Luis) Valbuena or (Justin) Turner is a better outcome. Too many teams play roulette with value. … I would move him.”
However, despite Sandoval’s poor stint in Boston, the Red Sox actually could use a solid third baseman. Top prospect Yoan Moncada is still developing, which leaves Brock Holt and Travis Shaw as the primary options at the hot corner. While Sandoval has delivered the third-worst OPS among MLB third basemen since 2015, he does provide value.
For starters, Sandoval is still just 30-years-old — that makes him younger than Turner and the same age as Valbuena. He also brings a championship pedigree from his successful stint with the Giants. Also, up until last season, when he registered his worst UZR/150 (-21.9) and Defensive Runs Saved (-11), Sandoval was regarded as a solid defender.
There were reports the last week of the regular season that Sandoval was looking to return for Boston’s playoff run.
“Well I think that in Pablo’s case, and we have a long haul until we get to the beginning of the season, the beginning of spring training, we’ve got four months ahead, so a lot of things could happen in four months,” Dombrowski said (via WEEI). “He should be proud of himself for how he’s handled the time since he left this club. I don’t know if you were in Tampa or not, you can see he’s appreciably got himself in better shape. He’s worked very hard for us down in Fort Myers, he’s been down there every day. He’s been a model with the young kids. Some of the people told Mike Hazen that he’s treated the younger kids better than anybody they’ve ever had down there from a Major League perspective, buying them food.
Also, the remainder of Sandoval’s contract — which contains three years and nearly $60 million — will likely not stand in the way of a deal. The Red Sox would have to pick up a significant portion of his remaining salary to facilitate a deal. However, the Giants a
Per Chris Haft of MLB.com, who spoke to Giants general manager Bobby Evans about the Herald‘s report, there are no immediate plans to reacquire Sandoval.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) November 27, 2016
“I am not aware of any consideration of a reunion,” Evans said. “but we’ll never forget all that he meant to the Giants organization.”
While the Giants plan is to start Eduardo Nunez at third base next season, Evans “sounded cool” to the idea of upgrading at third base. The question will be if Sandoval is that upgrade.
[Featured Image by Leon Halip/Getty Images]