Chase Headley or Pablo Sandoval for the San Francisco Giants?
By Jacob Fagan
Over the past, well, calendar year everybody has been debating whether to re-sign Pablo Sandoval or not. That will cost well over $90 million, so it’s time to start looking elsewhere. That elsewhere is third baseman Chase Headley.
Headley, 30, does not have a compensation pick attached to him and is projected to sign a four-year, around $50 million deal. That’s about half what Pablo is going to get while Headley is arguably the better player.
FanGraphs has valued Headley as a $74 million player over the last three seasons while Pablo is valued at $40 million. Headley was also the best third baseman in the majors according to FanGraphs’ advanced defensive metrics. Headley has had the higher OBP the last five seasons and that’s what the Giants need. Patience. In 2014, San Francisco had the 21st highest walk rate, 3rd highest swing rate, 2nd highest out of the strike-zone swing rate, and 18th highest OBP.
Pablo’s wRC+ last four seasons: 149, 118, 116, and 111. His fWAR last four seasons: 5.5, 2.6, 2.3, and 3.0. The 28-year old has had his OPS decline every year among every other offensive numbers. Headley had a 4.1 fWAR in 2014 while Pablo posted a 3.0 fWAR. Headley has a combined 23.1 fWAR in 966 games while Pablo has a combined 20.9 fWAR in 869 games. Based on advanced metrics, Headley is worth more per season than Pablo, but executives are blinded by the postseason success and the star persona Pablo presents.
Headley’s career numbers via FanGraphs:
Pablo’s career numbers via FanGraphs:
Yes, Headley is two years older than Sandoval, but Headley doesn’t have a weight issue or a substantial injury history. The switch hitting third baseman, Headley, was better from the right side in 2014, but in his career he has a 118 wRC+ from left side compared to 104 wRC+ from right side. Sandoval is not as balanced this season having a 59 wRC+, .563 from right side, but a 136 wRC+, .824 OPS from left side. In his career he has a 132 wRC+, .850 from left side and a 95 wRC+, .708 OPS from right side. The Giants lineup is stacked with lefties, so Headley’s offensive production from the right side could help balance out the lineup.
If San Francisco could sign Headley to around a four-year, $50 million deal right now and let Sandoval walk for about five years, $90 million it should be a no brainer for general manager Brian Sabean to sign the cheaper option.
No doubt, the Giants fans love Pablo, but Headley could keep some more options open including the possibility of signing Cuban free agent slugger Yasmany Tomas, who could replace Michael Morse in left field.
Right now the Giants payroll for 2015 is around $140 million and they ended the 2014 season with a $156 million payroll. The budget will likely increase a couple million, as well, for 2015.
Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third basemanPablo Sandoval
(48) holds up a panda costume head during the World Series victory parade on Market Street. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports