Red Sox Pablo Sandoval Will Have Surgery; Is He Done In Boston?

Apr 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) throws his helmet away after being forced out at second base in the seventh inning against Toronto Blue Jay at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) throws his helmet away after being forced out at second base in the seventh inning against Toronto Blue Jay at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval will have surgery that could make him miss the rest of the season. Has he played his last game for Boston?

Reports came last night that the big-name slugger, who signed through 2019 for $95 million, will be having left shoulder surgery and will likely miss the remainder of the 2016 season. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe tweeted this:

Later, Abraham elaborated on Sandoval’s status: “Dr. James Andrew examined Sandoval, 29, at his clinic in Gulf Breeze, Fla., on Monday and it is Andrews who will perform the surgery […] The [MLB] source said the surgery would be significant and require a lengthy rehabilitation period. The hope is that Sandoval would be ready for spring training in 2017.”

People who understand shoulder pain can tell you, at length, how frustrating and complicated the joint and its surrounding muscles can be to heal. Some people have to live with the pain, with no relief, for the rest of their lives, even if they had surgery to repair any damage sustained. Much like knees and their surrounding muscles, shoulders need a ton of rehabilitation to regain strength and, arguably, they can never truly be 100% ever again.

To be clear, Sandoval throws with his right arm, but the left shoulder is also very important to the mechanics of the proper throwing motion. Some fans may argue that he was already not using the proper motion well before Sandoval was injured, so it may be a while before the Venezuelan baseball star regains some semblance of proper form. The fact that Sandoval is a switch-hitter only compounds the problem even more, not that swinging the bat one way or the other would make it any better for him.

At present, the news was never going to make much of a difference to the Red Sox. Sandoval had already lost the starting job at third base to Travis Shaw. In an interview with ESPN baseball analyst Aaron Boone, he suggested to BoSox Injection that it was “the perfect storm” that Sandoval’s issues came just when Boston discovered what they had in their young infield prospect. In 2015, while Sandoval, a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner, batted .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 126 games, Shaw hit .270 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs in just 65 games. In 90 at-bats this season, Shaw hit .322 with three homers and 17 RBIs, while Sandoval failed to earn a hit in six attempts.

With better range on defense and better offensive production, Shaw has looked like an absolute bargain at $515 thousand a year, compared to the expensive Sandoval.

Which brings us to the question on many people’s minds: has Sandoval played his last game as part of the Red Sox? Likely for 2016, but highly doubtful after that point. The fact is that Sandoval is costing Boston money sitting in the recovery room as much as he is on the field.

If the Red Sox were to release him, a whole chunk of change is going Sandoval’s way, money that the team would want to keep or, at least, see a return on the investment. There lies the rub. The fans may love the fact that Sandoval cannot flop around on defense or break another belt buckle by swinging at bad pitches at the plate, but the executives in the ivory tower in Boston definitely do not want to see Sandoval having to take a great deal of time rehabbing his shoulder. The faster he heals, the faster Sandoval can take the field in the minors and work on his game, and the faster that they can call him back up to the big leagues.

Why would Boston want that? Well, it has nothing to do with Shaw and has everything to do with other teams interested in Sandoval’s services. However unlikely, some teams could be in the market for a former World Series champion, having playoff experience and a decent bat of yesteryear. Nobody is in the market for an asset riding the pine and riding out his hefty contract.

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If Sandoval can regain his form, or even improve it, he may entice another team to roll the dice and make a trade for him, allowing the Red Sox to take him off of their accounting books and off of their current roster, which has been a public relations nightmare ever since he came to spring training in 2015. He can’t show that he has the old Kung Fu Panda in him if he’s still recovering from a shoulder injury, making him even less of a trade target than he was before. It’s in the best interest of the Red Sox to help him with a speedy recovery and play him a few more times, whether to play him as a talent or to use him as a trading asset. Either way, Red Sox fans have not heard the last of Sandoval, although they may not have to hear more about him until 2017.