The Boston Red Sox third base battle is settled with Travis Shaw being anointed over Pablo Sandoval.
The Boston Red Sox have some very expensive bench players now that manager John Farrell has given the third base nod to Travis Shaw. Sandoval at 18 Million joins Rusney Castillo at 11.2 Million and Allen Craig – stored at Pawtucket – at 9 Million as the latest well profiled and compensated player to sit and watch.
Sandoval, who was signed as a free agent in 2015, disappointed last season with a slash of .245/.298/.361 while defensively posting a UZR/150 of -21.9 and a -11 for defensive runs saved – the bottom of the statistical charts for MLB third basemen in 2015.
For Shaw, he expressed – to no surprise – all the humble positives one would expect regarding the decision by Farrell.
"“I believed in myself at third for pretty much my whole career,” Shaw said. “It’s just kind of taken a while for other people to kind of jump on board. I’m ready. I feel like I’m in a good spot defensively and offensively, and I’ll be ready to do whatever I can to help this team win and get out of the gate strong.”"
Shaw was a surprise for Boston in 2015 when in 65 games the 25-year-old left-hand hitter batted .270 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI. Shaw also posted a UZR/150 of 12.5 in a small sample of 54.2 innings at third base. The versatile Shaw also saw extensive playing time at first base.
This spring Shaw’s offensive and defensive performance exceeded Sandoval who also showed up in camp in similar shape as he left in September – which certainly did not help his cause either in the eyes of fans or management. Sandoval also recently missed a few games with a minor back issue that may have set him back a notch in the competition and caused some rumblings regarding conditioning. Sandoval, however, said all the right things regarding the decision.
"“It’s going to be difficult, but I have to be happy,” said Sandoval. “[Shaw] is doing a great job and [had] a fantastic spring so, like I say, it’s going to be a tough battle. Nothing is easy. You know, I just look out for the best for the team. If it’s going to help the team, I’m happy.”"
Rumors have also surfaced in the last ten days regarding the potential trade of Sandoval to the San Diego Padres and they may intensify as the we roll into April. For now, all appears congenial in the clubhouse, but this is the Red Sox and anything can happen.