Remembering the Pablo Sandoval era with the Red Sox.
Back on November 24, 2014, the Boston Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a 5-year deal worth $95 million. Less than six years later, most Red Sox fans would consider this one of the worst signings in franchise history. Well, let’s explore all that he did in Boston.
At the time, this signing looked very good for Boston. He won three World Series championships with the Giants, was named to two All-Star Games as well as being the 2012 World Series MVP. He even had the best postseason batting average in the 2010 decade out of all qualified hitters.
In his first season in Boston in 2015, Sandoval played in 126 games and significantly under performed. He had only 10 home runs with 47 RBI and he struck out 73 times. He had a .245 batting average and a .658 OPS.
Sandoval showed up to Spring Training in 2016 overweight even though he said he lost 6 percent in body fat since he first reported. That’s when a photo of his stomach was released which made it appear like he gained weight instead of losing it. He ended up losing his starting job at third base to Travis Shaw.
During the 2016 season, he only had six total at-bats due to a left shoulder injury that basically kept him out for the whole season. 2016 was also the year that his belt broke after he swung and missed during an at-bat. He finished 0-for-6 with a walk and four strikeouts. During his rehab after surgery in May of that year, he apparently lost 15 pounds, although who knows if this actually happened.
The Panda came back to Spring Training in 2017, looking to win the starting job again against players like Josh Rutledge. He actually played well in Spring Training and won the starting job back. Sandoval struggled again in the regular season, only playing 32 games before going on the injured list with an inner ear infection. This required him to go on a rehab assignment for some reason and he was designated for assignment soon after. He was then released. He finished with a .212 average and four homers as well as 12 RBI with Boston in 2017.
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Five days after getting released by Boston, the Giants signed him to a minor league contract. He played with their Single A and Triple A affiliates before being called up after Brandon Belt hit the injured list. In 47 games with the Giants in 2017, Sandoval had a .225 average as well as 5 home runs and 20 RBI.
In 2018, the Giants decided to pickup his option, to be a backup third basemen to Evan Longoria. This was the year he made his pitching debut, throwing a perfect inning against the Dodgers. From the plate, he had a batting average of .248 in 92 games. He had nine home runs and 40 RBI.
He played even better in 2019. Although he later underwent Tommy John surgery, Sandoval played in 108 games which was the most he has played in since 2015. He had a .268 batting average and drove in a total of 41 runs. He also had 14 home runs.
For 2020, the Giants signed him to a minor league deal with a bonus for making the major league roster. During Spring Training 1, he went 5-for-18 (.278 average) in six games. It is definitely possible that Sandoval could make the 30-man roster when the season begins. Longoria is currently the only third basemen on the active roster for the Giants.
It seems that Sandoval performs better with a small market team. The Red Sox signing wasn’t considered terrible at the time, but with the Panda constantly under the eye of the media, it could be assumed that everything got to his head. He was definitely not the same player with the Giants as he was with the Red Sox. At least the Red Sox are no longer struggling to find an everyday third basemen like they were during the Sandoval era.