Could the San Diego Padres be interested in Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval?
Stranger things have happened … maybe.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported yesterday that a scout from the Padres was sent to take a look at Sandoval, in all of his officially-255-pounds of glory. “The fact that they are watching Sandoval the next couple of days — he went 0 for 3 in a minor league game Monday and is scheduled to start Tuesday for the first time since going down with back stiffness — may or may not mean anything, but they’re certainly leaving all options open.”
The Padres were also interested in signing Sandoval in 2014, before he went to Boston. The rumor was that the Padres’ offer was even bigger than the $95 million he’s getting from the Red Sox, yet Sandoval still signed with the historic franchise to the east.
The connection to another rumor that has been brewing between the Red Sox and Padres is what is giving this new development weight, no pun intended. The Red Sox may want a big name in return, especially one for the starting rotation. Cafardo states, “the Padres have been open to trading veteran starter James Shields, who also has a big contract, in the right type of deal. The Red Sox and Orioles have been both linked to Shields, who went 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA last season and allowed a major league-high 33 homers.” Cafardo adds that if the Red Sox would even ponder such a trade that “the Padres would probably want a prospect in a deal for Shields since they’re trying to rebuild. Yangervis Solarte is their top-rated third baseman.”
Should the Red Sox be interested? Possibly.
There’s no denying that the Red Sox could use the help with their rotation. Other than big free agent ace David Price, the Red Sox starters are the same as last season, with much to prove. Meanwhile, sophomore stand-out Eduardo Rodriguez will likely start the regular season in a continued spring training to rehab an ailing knee problem, Clay Buchholz is an enigma on the mound about whether the good or bad version will shine through, Rick Porcello is still a work in progress, and Joe Kelly was as fantastically good at the end of the season as he was amazing putrid to start 2015.
Shields has the experience, but he also has a huge price tag of $63 million (with a $16 million team option in 2019) still coming to him. He has spent most of his career in the American League East division, so the transition should be an easy one if he came to Boston. However, it would be yet another veteran with a great deal of aging, financial baggage on the roster. A short-term solution, but not necessarily sustainable.
It’s no picnic for the Padres, either. If they were to desire Sandoval’s services, they would be trading a huge price tag for an even bigger one to sit at third base and try to find his game, both at the plate and on the field. They would have to ask for a prospect as well, or else they would be making the same mistake the Red Sox made. Boston tried filling the third base role with Sandoval, themselves, and look what happened: a .245 batting average and 15 errors for a .949 fielding percentage, far below the league average for the position.
The upside for the Red Sox is not horrendous, but considering the alternative staying with the team, especially having Travis Shaw and Brock Holt able to take over, Sandoval going to the Padres for Shields could be a blessing. Less money spent for a pitcher who can still give many innings of service, allowing the bullpen to take over early and finish the job? Sounds like a plan. Just don’t count on the Red Sox execs doing a happy dance if it happens.