Red Sox Should Shop Pablo Sandoval


It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox have struggled this season. Finishing in last place in the division two out of the last three seasons, Boston who sits twelve games back of the division leading New York Yankees, looks like they’re well on their way to another last place finish.

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Most of Boston’s struggles have been linked to the lack of decent pitching. From the starters to the guys in the bullpen, there have been few highlights for Boston’s hurlers throughout this disappointing year. Clay Buchholz was one of the highlights, but then he inured his right elbow in his last start and was sent to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Buchholz will be out at least 5 to 8 weeks.

Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have been the only bright spots out of the bullpen this year. The 40 year old Uehara has been dominant as a closer this season, collecting 22 saves in 24 opportunities. Tazawa, who has been one of the most-used relievers in baseball this season has been remarkably consistent as well– owning a 2.81 ERA in 41 2/3 innings.

Veterans have also been a root cause of the team under preforming this season. As Rick Porcello among others have not preformed they way their career totals have projected, the Red Sox look to be sellers at the July 31st non waiver trade deadline for the third time in four seasons.

Shane Victorino was the first to be traded yesterday. He was shipped off to the west coast to help the Angels in their quest for October. The Red Sox received infielder Josh Rutledge, a 26-year-old infielder with a little bit of power. The move was mainly to help the Red Sox call up Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo and give him everyday at bats, something that he will greatly benefit from as he has yet to hit consistently in the Major Leagues.

One man who is under preforming to an extreme is third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The heavy Venezuelan was signed to a 5 year $95 million contract in the off-season, and has yet to show his worth in Boston. He ranks last among

qualified third baseman in WAR, last in defensive efficiency, and is also tied for last with only Adrain Beltre of the Texas Rangers with 83 wRC+.

It’s odd, though, Sandoval played Gold Glove caliber defense with the Giants and has been average if not above average with the leather while manning third base. He was coming off a solid 2014 campaign, one where he posted a 111 wRC+ in 158 games with a 3.0 WAR.

Due to his rapid decline–his OPS+ has dropped every year since 2011– the Red Sox should be shopping Pablo Sandoval at the trade deadline to not only teams that need an upgrade at third base, but teams with good starting pitching. Teams such as the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox.

The Padres have 28-year-old Yangervis Solarte manning third posting a 99 wRC+ in 221 Major League games, while not being too good with the glove, either. Sandoval would be an upgrade at third base for them both offensively and defensively, plus he has played in the N.L. West for most of his career. If the Padres would give up Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, and the Sox eat some of Sandoval’s contract that would be a good deal for both sides.

Jul 23, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher

Tyson Ross

(38) pitches during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Ross, a starter who owns a 2.73 FIP and 9.68 K/9 this year, also owns a 3.05 ERA and 9.2 K/9 since the start of the 2014 season. The other starter, Cashner is a veteran that has held opponents to a .283 clip against him. Ross is under team control though 2017 and Cashner is as well.

The White Sox, who also are close to sitting last in their division, are going to be sellers at the trade deadline as well. They could also afford an upgrade at third base with Gordon Beckham posting a 76 wRC+ and Connor Gillaspie posting a 76 wRC+. The White Sox have two starters that Boston would not mind acquiring.

One is Carlos Rodon. Rodon is a young lefty with the ability to strike out hitters. In his rookie season, the 22-year-old has posted a 3.62 FIP and 9.70 K/9. Rodon would require a lot more than Sandoval as his ceiling as a starter is very high, but Boston has the prospects to do it. Another starter that would interest Boston is Carlos Quintana. Quintana, a lefty under a 5 year $21 million contract with two option years, has posted a 3.11 FIP this year and owns a career 3.52 ERA.

Since his debut in 2008, Sandoval is among the best third baseman in baseball. Out 79 third baseman that qualified for the batting title since 2008, Sandoval ranks 6th in average, 12th in WAR, 15th in wRC+, 10th in RBIs, 12th in home runs, 9th in doubles and 23rd in OBP.

Although Sandoval did move from the N.L. West to the A.L East, that should not account for the dramatic decline in both offense and defense. He is adjusting to a new league with different pitchers in one of the toughest media outlets in the game. I’m sure he will eventually get back to his career norms at some point, but it also makes sense to trade him if the Red Sox get the right offer of starting pitching.

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