The San Francisco Giants tried re-signing former third baseman Pablo Sandoval two years ago and now may be interested in making a trade for him this year. The Boston Red Sox signed Sandoval to a five year, $95 million contract in 2014 and after two disastrous seasons, reportedly may be looking to move the “Panda.”
According to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, the Giants have considered a reunion with Sandoval. It is not known whether the Giants and Red Sox have talked. Sandoval would still have three years and $58 million remaining on his contract.
Sandoval had a career year in 2009, his first full season in the major leagues with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in while maintaining an incredible slashline of .330/.387/.556 for a .943 OPS. Pablo would also have a strong 2011, with another season with an OPS above .900. However, his other years were mixed with a combination of several injuries and weight issues. Despite the ups and downs, Sandoval was becoming an excellent third baseman, having been nominated as a finalist for a Gold Glove and was also a 2 time All-Star.
He saved his best performances for the post-season. Over 39 games and 154 at bats in October, Sandoval hit .344/.389/.545 for an OPS of .935. He was even better in the World Series. He won the Most Valuable Player award in 2012 after famously hitting three home runs in Game 1. Overall, Sandoval was a .426/.460/.702 hitter in the World Series with an incredible 1.162 OPS.
After the Giants third World Series championship in 2014, Sandoval didn’t seem interested in talking to reporters about his plans for free agency. At the parade, he remained quiet about his future plans and ultimately there were several reports that Sandoval was not interested in returning to the Giants at all. KPIX Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell first reported at the time that Sandoval was upset that he had not received a contract offer before the start of the 2014 season. When Sandoval agreed to a five year deal with the Red Sox the following week, the report became a reality.
Then came an interview in March of 2015 as Sandoval was getting ready for his first season with the Red Sox and Pablo’s anger came out. When asked who he would miss not playing for the Giants anymore, the 27 year old was very specific:
"“Only Bochy. I love Boch. He’s like my dad. He’s the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys.”"
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“Just those guys,” after signing with the organization as a 16 year old and playing for the franchise for 11 years and seven big league seasons, Sandoval had nobody else to name. That hit hard with the organization and the fans. After so many panda hats were sold in the team store and so many fans cheered the loveable Sandoval for so long, the breakup felt personal for everyone involved.
Here we are two years later and so much has changed. The Giants have played two seasons without Pablo and have failed to return to the World Series. After appearing in only three games in 2016, Sandoval is looking for another chance. After all the success the Red Sox had without him last year by winning the American League East, it is possible they might want to move on as well. The Giants traded Sandoval’s replacement, Matt Duffy, at the trade deadline last year and Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie filled in at third base. The Red Sox have some options at third besides Sandoval as well, but Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and young prospect Yoan Moncada all have question marks as well.
The other questions that remain are: Will the Red Sox give up on their investment in Sandoval? Will the Giants decide that what was said was said at a time when Pablo still felt hurt by the only franchise he had ever played for and that those fences could be mended? And if both of those answers are yes, what would it take to bring the “Panda” back to San Francisco? With so much money on the line, a lot will have to be worked out before deciding if the “Panda” can still sell enough hats to make it a sound investment.
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