If he leaves, which San Francisco Giants are best suited to replace Pablo Sandoval at third base?
Photo Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
We know a few things about Pablo Sandoval.
- If he’s managing his weight, the Panda can be one of the best hitters in the game and a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.
- If he’s not managing his weight, the Panda can be at best frustrating at the plate and a below average defensive third baseman.
We also know that barring some unforeseen late season extension, Pablo will be a free agent next year.
Now, if you watch the San Francisco Giants, you no doubt have an opinion on whether or not he should be brought back. You may even have some ideas in mind about how much is too much money, or how many years is too many years.
But if Sandoval is not brought back, the next question is very important. Who will play third base for the Giants in 2015 and beyond?
Today, we’re looking at the potential replacements that come from the Giants organization.
Option 1: Adam Duvall and/or Chris Dominguez
We’ve seen a little bit of both of these guys in San Francisco this year, but the sample size is a bit small. Fortunately, we have pretty extensive minor league numbers to draw from.
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The numbers are good, especially with Adam Duvall, but neither of these guys blow me away. Some of the problem is just a bias that I’m having a hard time getting past. Duvall just turned 26, while Chris Dominguez will be 28 in November. Neither of these two strike me as guys who would step in and be big contributors without at least going through some typical struggles that come when getting called up.
If they were 24 and 22, I’d be more okay with that. But the fact remains that these guys have both logged significant Minor League miles, and neither got called up until this year.
As a last resort, I’d be willing to roll the dice with someone like Duvall or even Dominguez, but I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled to see either as the opening day third baseman in 2015.
Option 2: Matt Duffy
Another home grown boy. Matt Duffy will be 24 in January, so we’re dealing with a younger guy here. He’s also logged more Major League at bats but as was the case with Duffy and Dominguez, the Minor League numbers teach us a little more.
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Of the three potential Minor League options, Duffy is the one that I like the most.
- He’s not much of a power guy. Granted, that tends to develop as guys get into their early-mid 20’s, but you’re not going to go from three homers in 367 at bats at age 23, to 20 in 550 at bats at age 27. Now, not everyone needs to be a home run hitter, but consider that they’d be using Duffy to replace a power hitter in Sandoval, Michael Morse is also a free agent that may also be on the way out and their best hitter, Buster Posey is a catcher, a position that tends to sap power. Hold the thought on Posey for a second. The point is that the Giants will need some pop in the lineup and if Duffy replaces Sandoval, the pop will be coming from another source.
- Duffy has limited experience at third base. He’s primarily been a shortstop and while the move from short to third is not impossible, there will be an adjustment period.
If the replacement for Sandoval comes from the minors, it’s likely to be one of those three guys. But we do have one more option to look at. While Joaquin Arias is under contract for the 2015 season, it’s not him.
Option 3: Buster Posey
It’s definitely an intriguing option and one that’s certainly been discussed before. A few things do need to be considered if this is the road the San Francisco Giants go down, though.
- You have to be confident, really confident, that Andrew Susac can take on a bigger role. I don’t know if he’d be the primary catcher, if they’d look to bring in another backstop, or if the Giants would look to use Buster Posey at catcher like the Indians have with Carlos Santana this year, which is not quite emergency catcher, but not the primary guy, either. No matter what, Susac would see a lot more time behind the dish.
- As I said, it’s been discussed this year. In August, Bruce Bochy even talked about the idea of moving Posey.
"I think it’d be more at first base…I think he could go to third base, but I think it takes some work because of the slow rollers, bunts and things like that.— Per John Shea, SF Gate."
The splits are fairly telling. Posey is a much better hitter when he’s not catching, as anyone would be.
But remember that Posey has never played third base. He played shortstop in high school and as a freshman in college and has been a catcher ever since, playing some first base. Now, as we went over with Duffy, the move from short to catcher can be done, but it’s been a while for Buster — 2007, to be exact.
Now, think about yourself. Think about something that you haven’t done at all since 2007. Personally, I remember 2007 because I was in college and it was the year that I took my final math class. I’ve never been very good at match but by the end of the term, it actually seemed like I knew what I was doing.
If I were to be dropped back into the same math class next February, things would be rough for a good, long while.
At the very least, that’s a possibility with Posey if he ends up moving from catcher to third. I don’t mean to diminish Posey’s abilities at all, but he’s never been a third baseman and by the time Spring Training begins, won’t have been anything close to one for nearly eight years.
Still, this is the option that I would be most for if the replacement comes from within the organization. Posey’s offense would increase long term and as a fan, I’d be willing to risk some short term poor defense.
Having said that, if the options are to replace Pablo Sandoval from within or re-sign him, I hope they bring the Panda back. I’m not necessarily sure that Posey moving from catcher will happen as soon as 2015 but even if it does, I’d be more in favor of having him play first and moving Brandon Belt to the outfield.
What do you other Giants fans think? Do you feel that I missed someone else within the San Francisco Giants organization that you feel can replace the Panda if he leaves? Was I too harsh or optimistic with any of these guys? Let me know in the comment section below.