As the second move in a huge day for the Red Sox, the team has agreed on a contract with Pablo Sandoval on top of the earlier signing of Hanley Ramirez to a 4 year/$88M deal. The terms of Sandoval’s deal are unknown but, according to Sandoval’s agent Gustavo Vazquez, the deal is done and Kung Fu Panda is Boston-bound.
This acquisition doesn’t come as a surprise by any means, as the Red Sox have made their intents very clear regarding Sandoval. Since the offseason began, there have been myriad rumors connecting the Red Sox to Sandoval, with many reports pegging him as the Red Sox’ top target this winter. Sandoval was expected to sign early in the offseason, certainly before Thanksgiving, and that has held true as the Winter Meetings are still two weeks away.
As far as the contract itself goes, it’s tough to analyze it too much with the specific terms of the deal unclear. However, it was reported earlier today that he had signed a contract in the range of 5 years and $100M and, while that rumor was later rebuked by Vazquez, who stated that Sandoval was yet to make a decision, it’s likely that the final contract is in that general area.
That’s a lot of money for a player who slashed a good-not-great line of .279/.324/.415 with 16 home runs in 157 games for the Giants. However, there are a number of factors that could make this a worthwhile deal for the Red Sox.
First and foremost among those positive factors is that Sandoval is likely to hit much better than that after moving to Fenway Park and the hitter-friendly AL East. As a switch-hitter, he will see the majority of his at-bats from the left side of the plate, but his ability to hit to the opposite field will help raise his average while the spacious right field will account for plenty of doubles for the Panda; plus, his plate appearances from the right side will give him the obvious benefit of the Green Monster.
In addition, Sandoval provides the solid, reliable player which counteracts the volatile star power of Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez, while a monster on the field who features a career .300/.373/.500 slash line and hit .283/.369/.448 in 2014, has had trouble staying on the field (he has exceeded 130 games just once in the last four years), has featured poor defense at shortstop (though a move to left field should help him), and has had attitude issues in the past (though those did not appear to be a problem during his tenure in Los Angeles). On the other hand, Sandoval, while he provides nowhere near the offensive prowess of Ramirez, is quite durable (playing 141 and 157 games in the last two seasons), plays consistently solid defense at the hot corner, and has been a beloved teammate as a member of the Giants.
The Sandoval signing, in addition to the Ramirez signing earlier today, gives the Red Sox one of the better lineups in the league and, assuming that his deal winds up falling around 5 years and $100M, the Red Sox haven’t had to break the bank to get it. The Red Sox still have financial room to secure a high-caliber pitcher, and a reunion with Jon Lester is looking more and more likely, and through trading pieces from their outfield surplus, they shouldn’t have a problem filling their holes in the rotation.
It’s fun to see the Red Sox having an active offseason and today’s events appear to mark only the beginning of what should be a thrilling offseason.