Giants’ Sandoval headed to Boston
SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval caught the final out of the World Series last month and immediately fell to the ground, kicking off a joyous championship celebration. That turned out to be his last act in orange and black.
Sandoval agreed to a five-year deal with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, leaving the franchise that signed him out of Venezuela more than a decade ago. The deal will pay Sandoval about $100 million, according to CBSSports.com. The 28-year-old third baseman ultimately turned down a similar offer from the Giants after a run that included three titles and two All-Star appearances.
The Giants offered Sandoval a five-year, $95 million deal last week, per multiple sources, and indicated a willingness to up the ante to $100 million to get a deal done. They have a history of keeping their own — especially after championships — but Sandoval opted for a fresh start. He called assistant general manager Bobby Evans on Monday afternoon to inform him of the final decision.
“He said it was a really difficult decision and he was spending a lot of time with his family trying to contemplate what was best,” Evans said. “He felt like he needed a new challenge, and he wanted to try something new.”
That should eventually include a new role. In discussions with the Giants over the past week, Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, made it clear that his client was drawn to the possibility of being a designated hitter. The Red Sox have one of the best of all time in David Ortiz, but the slugger who played an instrumental role in recruiting Sandoval turned 39 earlier this month and likely will retire sometime during Sandoval’s new deal. The DH role was one the Giants could not offer, and it could be a key for Sandoval, who has battled weight issues throughout his seven years in the majors.
The Giants tried everything they could to keep Sandoval’s weight under control, turning to tough love at times and endless encouragement at others. Despite the ups and downs, the Giants pushed hard to keep Sandoval in the organization, offering him a deal this spring that could have made him a Giant through the 2019 season.
With one season remaining until he could test the market, Sandoval asked the Giants for a five-year extension. The front office tried to bridge the gap by offering a four-year deal that would start in 2015 and guarantee Sandoval around $75 million, with a vesting option that would have turned it into a five-year extension worth approximately $85 million.
Sandoval chose instead to bet on himself, a decision that looked foolish when he got off to a slow start. But he turned his season around, hitting .279 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs. After dropping more than 30 pounds over the offseason — from the 280s to 250 — Sandoval played such sharp defense that he was nominated for the Gold Glove at third base.
While his OPS dropped to .739 this year, Sandoval rebounded with a spectacular postseason, renewing his status as one of the few impact bats on the market. He hit .366 last month and set an MLB record with 26 postseason hits as the Giants won a third title in five years. He was the MVP of the second World Series, hitting three homers in Game 1 of the 2012 matchup with the Detroit Tigers.
Sandoval now will try to lead Boston back to the postseason as part of a package deal. The Red Sox also have reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with former Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who likely will move to left field in a revamped lineup for a Red Sox team that finished last in the American League East.
For the Giants, the search for a replacement begins immediately, and the offseason has taken on a dramatically different tone. The Giants made Sandoval their clear priority, asking their other free agents — Michael Morse, Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo — to be patient as they tried to agree to terms with Sandoval. The free agent market is short on position players, but the Giants are viewed as frontrunners for Cubans Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada, and they are expected to make a run at Chase Headley, the best of the remaining free agent third basemen. General manager Brian Sabean said earlier this month that the organization does not have an in-house replacement for Sandoval.
A team source said Monday that the Giants intend on spending the money they had earmarked for Sandoval, and it’s possible they turn in a completely different direction. They have checked in on free agent left-hander Jon Lester, who was traded from the Red Sox to the A’s in July. They have also kept in touch with Peavy and Vogelsong, who made up half of their postseason rotation. The Giants have a Plan B, and they’ll have to turn to it quickly now that Sandoval’s lengthy run in San Francisco is over.
“Pablo Sandoval has been a key member of the Giants since breaking into the Majors with us in 2008,” the Giants organization said in a statement released Monday. “He has been with us through some of the greatest moments in San Francisco Giants history — including all three World Series championships. We will never forget his World Series MVP performance in 2012 and his numerous contributions to the 2014 championship. His connection with Giants fans — young and old — is truly special and he will be great missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.”