Red Sox: Pablo Sandoval regrets free agent decision to come to Boston

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

Former Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval looks to make amends with the franchise he once scorned, now realizing he never should have left San Francisco

If Pablo Sandoval had access to a time machine he would go back to that day in November 2014 when he signed a free agent deal with the Boston Red Sox. If he could do it all over again he would have torn up that contract offer and remained with the San Francisco Giants.

There are no do-overs in baseball, but Sandoval is coming about as close as you can get to hitting the reset button by returning to the Giants on a minor league deal. Upon his return, he told reporters that he learned his lesson. If he had the opportunity to sign as a free agent with the Giants again he would do so rather than leave for Boston.

News flash, Pablo. The Red Sox wish more than anyone that you had come to that same decision. Ben Cherington certainly wishes Sandoval turned down Boston’s offer. Maybe he’d still have a job here if he could get a mulligan on signing the maligned third baseman.

Sandoval will be remembered in Boston for having the worst contract in franchise history. His 5-year, $95 million deal was such an albatross that the Red Sox were forced to waive him halfway through it. They would rather eat the nearly $50 million remaining on his contract than allow him to wear their team’s uniform again.

Now Sandoval returns to San Francisco, the only organization that was willing to consider him at this point. The last place Giants may be hoping to spark some interest from a nostalgic fan base that remembers what it was like when Sandoval resembled a baseball player. Or they may simply have some leftover Panda merchandise they need to get rid of.

After an embarrassing stint in Boston, Sandoval is retreating back to the familiarity of the only other franchise he’s ever known. The same organization he essentially flipped the bird to on his way out the door. His less than gracious exit from San Francisco included publicly criticizing the Giants for their contract negotiations and claiming he wouldn’t miss anyone from the team aside from Hunter Pence and manager Bruce Bochy.

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Sandoval once said it was not hard at all to leave the franchise he won three World Series titles with. In truth, he had 95 million reasons to leave. Now he’s trying to make amends to the Giants by claiming he would have been better off if he never left San Francisco.

Boston foolishly overpaid a clearly declining player in a desperate attempt to fill a position of need in a thin market for third basemen. For that they can be blamed, a price Cherington has already paid. Just don’t blame the Red Sox for the collapse of Sandoval’s career. It’s not their fault he refused to report to spring training in shape or that he couldn’t stay healthy.

Sandoval became complacent once he got his money, that’s why his career unraveled. The Red Sox should have recognized that Sandoval’s OPS had been in steady decline for years. They should have expected that a player who has struggled with weight issues throughout his career would not age well. What they could not have foreseen was that he would stop caring as soon as he got here. That’s on Sandoval.

You can argue that signing a shorter deal to remain in San Francisco would have encouraged him to be more motivated. Agreeing to take less money to stay may have been viewed as a noble act that would buy him some goodwill with Giants fans. Signing for less money would mean his contract wouldn’t be such a colossal bust, therefore the city would be less likely to turn on him once his production went in the tank.

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Sadly, that’s not the decision he made. Sandoval tortured Red Sox fans for two and a half seasons as the least valuable player in baseball. In the end he still gets his money and gets to return to a franchise that never wanted him to leave. Only now we’re left to wonder if Giants fans even want him back. Good luck with that, San Francisco.