5 worst free-agent contracts in Boston Red Sox history

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 6: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox in action against of the New York Yankees in the first inning during a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 6: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox in action against of the New York Yankees in the first inning during a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 6, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval
FORT MYERS, – MARCH 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox knocks the ball down at third base on the ground ball from Jason Rogers (not in photo) of the Pittsburgh Pirates an makes the play to first base for the out during the fourth inning of the Spring Training Game on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Panda became a liability to the Red Sox

While the Red Sox were brining Hanley back to Boston, they were also working on finalizing a five-year, $95 million deal with Pablo Sandoval. At the time, both free-agents had some appeal as arguably the best bats on the market. Sandoval lacked Ramirez’s power and didn’t have any Silver Slugger awards or a batting title on his resume. He was a two-time All-Star who won three championships and earned a World Series MVP with the San Francisco Giants though.

The problem with signing both former All-Stars is they played the same position. The addition of Sandoval led to the regrettable experiment with Ramirez in left field. This was clearly a case of the Red Sox trying to “win” the offseason with splashy signings without any regard for how they fit on the roster. Predictably, the plan backfired.

Sandoval’s first season in Boston was a disappointment, setting career-lows across the board with a .245 average, .658 OPS, 10 home runs and 47 RBI with a -0.5 WAR.

His 2016 season was cut short after only three games when a shoulder injury required season-ending surgery. The only memorable aspect of that season for Sandoval was when his belt burst during a massive swing-and-miss in a game against the Blue Jays.

The Red Sox designated Sandoval for assignment after only 32 games in 2017 in which he hit .212 with a .622 OPS while producing a career-worst -0.9 WAR. It’s difficult to provide that much negative value in such a short period of time but Sandoval found a way.

Sandoval was released in July with nearly $48 million remaining on his contract. The Red Sox were so eager to move on that they were gladly willing to eat that much salary in order prevent him from clogging a roster spot.

Injuries played a part in Sandoval’s rapid decline but his struggles were partially self-inflicted. His conditioning was a topic of concern for his entire tenure in Boston and he routinely showed up to camp out of shape. Sandoval was impressively agile for a player his size when he played for the Giants but he was immobile at the hot corner during his time in Boston and his weight began to hinder him at the plate.

Sandoval was a questionable signing from the start, especially since it coincided with adding Ramirez, but the deal turned out to be far worse than anyone could have imagined.