Red Sox designate third baseman Pablo Sandoval for assignment

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Pablo Sandoval
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Pablo Sandoval /

The Boston Red Sox announced that Pablo Sandoval has been designated for assignment, likely ending his much maligned tenure with the franchise.

The Pablo Sandoval era has mercifully come to an end. The Boston Red Sox announced on Friday that they have designated the veteran third baseman for assignment.

This likely ends Sandoval’s tenure in the organization following two and a half miserable years since signing a 5-year, $95 million deal in free agency. There’s a chance that Sandoval could agree to be outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, similar to what the team did with Allen Craig.

It’s highly unlikely that another team would scoop him up off waivers and take on his albatross contract. If he goes unclaimed then Boston could try to trade him, which presumably would require them to eat a significant portion of his remaining salary.

The most likely scenario is that Sandoval clears waivers and becomes a free agent. The Red Sox would be on the hook for paying the rest of his contract. Counting the $5 million buyout on his 2020 team option, Sandoval is still owed approximately $48.66 million.

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It’s hard to imagine that Sandoval was once viewed as a highly touted free agent. The version we saw in Boston showed no resemblance to the two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP.

In parts of three seasons, Sandoval hit a brutal .237/.286/.360/.646 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI over 161 games. That production would be considered abysmal for one season, let alone spread across three years, for which he’ll be paid over $52 million.

Sandoval has been worth -2.0 WAR during his tenure in Boston. As difficult as it may be for ownership to swallow his remaining salary, Sandoval is actually more valuable now that he’s been jettisoned from the roster since they can replace him with a player who isn’t below replacement level.

The remainder of what the Red Sox still owe Sandoval would be the second largest sum of dead money in MLB history, trailing only Josh Hamilton ($68.4 million).

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The Sandoval contract will undoubtedly go down as the worst free agent signing in franchise history. As bad as the Carl Crawford deal was, at least they managed to pawn him off on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sandoval has been sidelined by an ear infection that landed him on the disabled list on June 20. His rehab clock was set to expire this weekend, pushing the Red Sox to make a decision. Assuming they couldn’t Jedi mind trick another team into trading for him before then, Boston would have been forced to put him back on the active roster. That would break up the platoon of Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin, which has been mediocre at best but still better than what they could expect from Sandoval.

Releasing Sandoval assures they will stick with their current tandem for now, although don’t rule out the possibility of the Red Sox making a move for another third baseman at the trade deadline.

The Red Sox have also promoted top prospect Rafael Devers to Triple-A Pawtucket. The 20-year old could still use some polishing at the minor league level, but moving up a level potentially puts him in line for a September call-up.

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Third base remains the biggest concern on the roster in the short-term. The release of Sandoval does nothing to improve their outlook, yet at least he can no longer make the team any worse. Fans can finally put the nightmare of Pablo Sandoval’s tenure with the Red Sox behind them.