As we all know, the trade deadline is past year has come and gone. One of the trades that was made was the San Francisco Giants acquiring starter Matt Moore in exchange for infielder Matt Duffy and a couple of low-level prospects. Duffy became expendable after the Giants acquired infielder Eduardo Núñez from the Minnesota Twins earlier in the week. While Núñez is under contract for next season, the Giants may need to consider a longer-term replacement at third base. The answer?
How about an old friend: third baseman Pablo Sandoval of the Boston Red Sox.
As has been well-documented, Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox in the 2014 offseason. He was supposed to provide a major boost to the lineup and be a significant factor in the middle of the order. However, Sandoval’s tenure in Boston has been nothing short of a disaster. His 2015 season could be described as mediocre at best, and the Red Sox wanted him out of the picture so badly that they had him receive shoulder surgery in order to keep him out for the entire season. If I was a betting man, I would say that Sandoval has played his last game for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox could keep him, given that designated hitter David Ortiz is retiring after this season. However, that is highly unlikely. Boston needs to find a spot for top prospect Yoan Moncada, and the obvious choice is third base. Their plan will likely be to put Moncada a third, move Travis Shaw over to first, and take Hanley Ramirez out of the field entirely. That leaves Sandoval without a place to play, and I guarantee you no one wants a $19 million bench player on their team.
The problem, of course, is that most other teams probably aren’t going to want him. He is obviously past his prime, he is overweight, and he has an awful contract, making $19 million per year over the next three seasons. Nevertheless, one team that may be willing to take a chance on him is the San Francisco Giants. He would not require a lot of prospects to acquire, and the Red Sox would definitely be willing to eat a good portion of the money. If there was any one place that Sandoval could potentially resurrect his career, it would be San Francisco.
The Giants may still be wary of a possible reunion with Sandoval. He did not leave on the best of terms, and he is not nearly the player that he was while he was there. Plus, Núñez is still there for at least one more year, and there may be other options available.
None of those options, however, give the potential for success that Sandoval provides. He was a key cog in their lineup for multiple postseason runs and helped lead them to multiple championships. If he were to return to form, the idea of him, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey as a trio in the middle of a lineup could frighten the opposing pitchers. Heck, it might even help San Francisco extend their success into odd numbered years.
Anyone who takes on Pablo Sandoval at this point of his career knows that they are taking a major risk. He might never return to being the force that he once was, and he could just be a waste of a roster spot. Still, there is a chance he returns to being the player he once was: a nightmare middle of the order switch hitter who thrives in the playoffs. San Francisco is best equipped to take that risk, and the Red Sox are desperate to have just about anyone to take him off their hands. The odds of him becoming great again are small, but San Fran is the place to do it.
And if he does return to form? Watch out, baseball.
Cover Photo used previously