For Red Sox, Is Sandoval Contract A Bust?


A free agent with a resume like that of Pablo Sandoval‘s does not hit the open market as often as one would like in baseball. In fact, it hardly ever happens. Usually, a man with those type of credentials is locked up by the team he is currently playing for. But not Pablo Sandoval.

No, no, no, the hefty Venezuelan felt that he and his agents were disrespected by the San Francisco Giants ownership and front office, prompting him to take his talents elsewhere. Dubbed by his teammates the “Kung Fu Panda” for his unsuspected agility at the hot corner, Sandoval managed third base for San Francisco for the better part of six seasons.

He picked up a couple of All-Star appearances, MVP votes, and added three World Series Rings to his collection of flashy jewelry. He was given 2012 World Series MVP honors after batting .500 and hitting 3 home runs. He made a name for himself as one of the best postseason performers of all time with his .344/.389/.545 October numbers.

Sandoval saved 15 runs at third base for the Giants in 2011. When he hit the free agent market last November, there was speculation that Sandoval was going to many different teams, and also the same speculation that he would continue his career with the team that produced him.

On November 25th, the Red Sox announced that they had signed the star to a 5-year $95 million contract with a club option. Along with his $3 million signing bonus, he is set to make $17 million the first three years, $18 million the next two, and then another $17 million should the option for 2020 be picked up. Should the option not be picked up, there is a $5 million buyout.

Sep 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox third basemen Will Middlebrooks (16) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

After he signed, most wondered, because of his rising weight, if Sandoval would DH and then the Red Sox could keep the young power hitter Will Middlebrooks. But Sandoval insisted that he was determined to excel at the hot corner and stated multiple times that he didn’t want to DH.

So the Red Sox traded Middlebrooks to San Diego in exchange for hometown kid Ryan Hanigan. Middlebrooks never quite found his rhythm at the plate in Boston, but did have a big upside to him. He hit .237/.284/.411 with 34 home runs in his time in Boston. But was trading Middlebrooks the right idea? Is it too early to call Sandoval’s contract a bust? In my opinion, it is in fact too early to judge the success of the contract simply because its not even half a season through what could end up being a six-year agreement.

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It is interesting, however, that the table above is showing that Middlebrooks is in fact playing at a higher level than Sandoval is. He is preforming better both offensively and defensively and Middlebrooks has the advantage of being young and in shape, while Sandoval does not. Middlebrooks is playing for $540,000. That is a fraction of Sandoval’s $17 million.

Sandoval has recently switched to batting left-handed only to try and improve his offensive contributions to the Red Sox lineup. Sandoval’s numbers should see some form of improvement later in the season because his numbers are far from his career averages. But, if they plan on winning this season, Sandoval’s offense was a big key in them doing so.