Faux Winter Meetings: Red Sox sign Pablo Sandoval, Luke Hochevar



Ben, crank the music! John, call the newspapers! Larry, hit the “order” button on all the Panda merchandise you have queued up!

Okay so in the real world #PandaWatch2014 is very much still in effect, my fellow Co-GM Conor Duffy and I have managed to pull off an absolute coup this week at the 2014 Fansided Faux Winter Meetings. Whether or not you are a fan of the “Kung Fu Panda” it is hard to argue that the four years and $72 million dollars we got him for is a bad contract. That being said, another big offseason target I have been writing about, was also brought in this week in Luke Hochevar (two year/$8.5 million). 

This is going to be a polarizing signing for many Red Sox fans. Many will be completely put off by this and don’t want to see the Red Sox sign Pablo Sandoval, with concerns about his ability to age and stick at 3B. These concerns are somewhat justifiable, but Sandoval also represents something of a missing link to the Red Sox lineup stacked with right handed hitters. There is also astonishingly little 3B production league-wide right now, and next years available third basemen are particularly uninspiring (36 year old Juan Uribe and 37 year old Aramis Ramirez are the headline names…).

The Red Sox have asserted their intentions to immediately win baseball games and get back to the playoffs. They will not be able to do that with Garin Cecchini, or Chase Headley as the starting third baseman next year. The former was never able to play strong defense at the hot corner (not to mention concerns about his long term offensive viability cropping up in Triple-A this year), and the latter has put together one spectacular half-season in a long career otherwise defined by offensive adequacy.

Sandoval may very well end up having to move away from third base, but there are a couple solutions built into this problem. If he ages spectacularly quickly (this would be a borderline impossible rate of decline but I will play devil’s advocate given the hefty third basemen’s struggles with weight), the solution would be to slide Xander Bogaerts to 3B, Sandoval to either DH or 1B (depending on what happens with David Ortiz and Mike Napoli), and plug in defensive whiz kid Devin Marrero at SS.

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If, more realistically, Sandoval can play a solid 3B for 2-3 years until David Ortiz retires then the Red Sox can gauge the viability of two very young but very strong 3B prospects: Rafael Devers and 2014 1st Round Draft Pick Michael Chavis (or they could go the big splash route). Ortiz will retire at some point (he will be 40 next by the end of next year) and Sandoval is an impact left handed bat who can replace his middle of the order production and postseason pop.

Hochevar is more of an insurance signing. I was among those who were concerned about Koji Uehara being capable of bearing a full season workload, and was unsure about re-signing him for 2 years. But with the ink having dried on his new deal, it will certainly not hurt to have a high leverage weapon like Hochevar as a contingency plan for the closer’s role should Koji need a lighter workload to maintain efficacy. Between Edward Mujica, Koji, the recently (faux) acquired Alex Torres, Junichi Tazawa, and Hochevar, the (faux) Red Sox have the makings of a dominant (faux) bullpen.

The Red Sox have now filled every spot in the infield, cleared the logjam in the outfield in the Yoenis CespedesAndrew Cashner deal, and have the makings of a very competitive lineup. A platoon partner with Christian Vasquez is still a priority, as is another front line starting pitcher, but look for this team to finish assembling their 2015 roster very soon.