Red Sox heading for messy divorce with Pablo Sandoval


Moving Pablo Sandoval to the disabled list is just the first step toward a messy divorce between the Boston Red Sox and their displaced third baseman.

We are barely into Year 2 of the five-year agreement that the Boston Red Sox made with Pablo Sandoval, but this relationship may be nearing its end.

It would be an understatement to say that Sandoval has been a disappointment thus far in his tenure with the Red Sox. The former two-time All-Star and World Series MVP produced a career low in essentially every offensive category last season on his way to establishing himself as one of the least valuable position players in the league.

Sandoval’s OPS had been sinking for three consecutive years prior to his arrival in Boston, a red flag that the previous regime ignored when they inked him to a lucrative long-term deal, but last season it fell off a cliff to an abysmal .658 that ranked near the bottom of the league.

If that wasn’t bad enough, his defense was even worse. When he showed up to camp this spring out of shape, that was the last straw. The Red Sox gave his starting third base job away to the rapidly emerging Travis Shaw, relegating Sandoval to a seldom used bench role. Through the first eight games of the season, Sandoval has started only once, going 0-for-6 at the plate with a walk and four strikeouts.

Now the Red Sox have placed Sandoval on the disabled list, which seems as much of an excuse to get him out of the way as it is out of concern for an injury. Sandoval complained of sudden shoulder pain that seemingly came out of nowhere, which prompted the team to immediately send him to the DL without bothering with the standard procedure of getting the issue checked out with an MRI.

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It leaves us to wonder if Sandoval was ever really hurt, beyond general soreness that may have subsided in a day or two. Sure, it’s possible that his ailing shoulder is a legitimate concern, but shouldn’t the team have done their due diligence to find out before banishing him to the DL? Not if they saw this as an opportunity to replace him on the roster with a more productive player.

The dysfunctional relationship between Sandoval and the Red Sox may be broken beyond repair, with both sides now at a standstill. A major league source told Yahoo Sports that Sandoval wants to remain in Boston only if he can be an everyday player, while the Red Sox have no intention of playing him again unless he loses weight.

In other words, there’s a fat chance of Sandoval putting on the Red Sox uniform he struggles to fit into anytime soon. The team may be saying that Sandoval has been moved to the disabled list for a strained shoulder, but in reality, DL may as well stand for Diet List.

So where do they go from here? Both sides are at least publicly maintaining that the relationship is salvageable. Manager John Farrell recently told reporters that he still believes that the Panda can contribute to this team, but what else is he going to say? Meanwhile, Sandoval’s “I signed here for five years, so I’m here” response sounds like someone trapped in a flailing marriage that he can’t escape.

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Even with the Red Sox holding the door open for him to get out, escape won’t come easily. The new front office headlined by Dave Dombrowski owes no allegiance to Sandoval and would be more than happy to wash their hands of another mistake made by their predecessors, but they know that the more than $75 million remaining on Sandoval’s contract is simply too much to swallow by flat out releasing him.

A trade would appear to be Sandoval’s only ticket out of town, but his value is next to nil at the moment. Even if they were able to find a buyer willing to risk rehabilitating his career, the Red Sox would be forced to eat a large chunk of that contract and could expect very little in return as far as prospects.

This is why the trip to the disabled list is the best option for both sides. Sandoval can use the time off to work on his conditioning, which would inevitably lead to improved overall performance. This would be followed by an extended “rehab” stint in Pawtucket, where he could work on recapturing his swing and restoring his image as a competent baseball player.

Perhaps the time off will do Sandoval some good, pushing him to work harder so that he can get back to the big leagues. If that happens then Farrell may end up being right about Sandoval contributing to this team at some point, or at the very least he may show enough to fool some other team into thinking he can help them.

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If Sandoval can’t recover then he becomes a sunk cost and the Red Sox will spend the next few years coming up with various excuses to send him back to the disabled list as their only avenue to make him go away.