Red Sox players with the most to gain and lose in Spring Training
Pablo Sandoval: Both?
I’m starting this off with Pablo because he’s a walking paradox at this point. A 3-time champion and World Series MVP while a member of the SF Giants, he hasn’t come close to resembling his former self since signing with the Red Sox in 2015. He’s in a rare situation where expectations are so low that if he’s able to produce anything, it’ll be considered surplus value. On the flip side, his career could be in jeopardy if he isn’t able to prove that he still belongs on a major league roster.
Credit where it’s due, he’s lost a lot of visible weight prior to camp and seems motivated to take back his job at third. After showing up significantly overweight last season and hitting just .244 in Spring Training, he lost the starting position to Travis Shaw. Shaw was dealt to Milwaukee in December as the primary piece in the trade that acquired RHP Tyler Thornburg.
Third base is Sandoval’s to lose this season, but it won’t come without competition. Super-utility man Brock Holt is next in line to take the hot corner; he started 11 games at third last season, more than any other infield position. Further down the depth chart are Josh Rutledge, Matt Dominguez, and Mike Olt. Only Holt and Rutledge are expected to find a spot on the major league roster, though it would be fun having a Holt and an Olt on the Red Sox.
If Pablo delivers on all his promises and workout videos, he’ll stand to gain more than any other player on the roster. The team isn’t asking him to do anything he hasn’t done before, so it’s within reason to think that he could reclaim his productivity. On the other hand, he has been a shell of his former self for the last two, arguably three seasons. If he can’t show that he’s capable of playing at this level, his major league career seems to be over.