Pablo Sandoval Rumors

NL West Notes: Preller, Montero, D’Backs, Anderson, Giants

A pair of rival executives described Padres GM A.J. Preller as “all over the map” when asked by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Preller, Rosenthal writes, is furiously exploring both trade and free agent possibilities to boost his new club’s offense. According to Rosenthal, Preller was in contact with the Braves about Jason Heyward prior to their trade with the Cardinals, and he’s also called on Jay Bruce and Matt Kemp in addition to showing legitimate interest in Pablo Sandoval. One of Preller’s colleagues estimated to Rosenthal that the San Diego GM has had “baseline discussions” on at least 200 players this offseason. Suffice it to say, Padres fans should likely expect some form of significant move in Preller’s first offseason at the helm.

Elsewhere in the division…

  • Trade talks regarding Miguel Montero have not escalated significantly since Russell Martin came off the board and signed with the Blue Jays, reports the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro (the Montero portion comes at the bottom of the article). However, the D’Backs have spoken to the White Sox, Cubs and Dodgers about Montero, who is owed $40MM over the next three seasons.
  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart was recently in the Dominican Republic, and senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson is in Mexico scouting some of the top international teens on the market. The D’Backs are hoping to make waves on the international front soon, he adds.
  • The Rockies are still interested in re-signing Brett Anderson to a more team-friendly deal than the $12MM option they declined, tweets the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders. However, the Royals and Astros are interested in adding Anderson under similar circumstances, he adds.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans said on KNBR radio yesterday that his team is very interested in both Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada (via Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). However, Evans wouldn’t commit one way or another when asked if his club had the money to sign both Tomas and Sandoval.

Padres Join Sox, Giants In Serious Pursuit Of Sandoval

Yesterday was an active one for Pablo Sandoval chatter, and today is shaping up in like fashion. As his market continues to develop, we’ll keep tabs on the latest here:

  • There’s very little separation between the current offers of the Giants, Red Sox and Padres, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. All three teams are in the five-year, $90-95MM range, while the Blue Jays, Cafardo hears, are wavering

Earlier Updates

  • The Padres have joined the Red Sox and Giants as one of the most aggressive teams on Sandoval, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. While the White Sox and Blue Jays have interest they’re not believed to be as aggressive as the other three clubs. Heyman refers to the Padres as a “shocking” entrant in the race for a free agent of this caliber, and indeed, few pegged San Diego as a serious suitor for the Panda heading into the offseason.
  • The Blue Jays do not have an offer out to Sandoval or anyone else, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). Neither does the team have plans to make any offers in the next 24 hours, he said. Prior reports have suggested that Toronto was lining up a bid for Sandoval.
  • The Red Sox have not yet made Sandoval an offer, his brother and agent Michael Sandoval tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link).
  • The Giants feel they are very much in the hunt for Sandoval’s services, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports“We’ve got every indication that we’re right in the middle of it,” said assistant GM Bobby Evans, who went on to say that he believes “the interest is sincere” and that he thinks the player’s affinity for his long-time club could play some role. Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, has requested that San Francisco submit its best offer, according to Evans.
  • Evans also said in a radio appearance on KNBR today that he expects Sandoval to sign fairly quickly, possibly before Thanksgiving. (Via Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News, on Twitter.) “I sense Pablo really edging towards trying to wrap this up,” said Evans.

Blue Jays Preparing Offer For Pablo Sandoval

There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…

  • The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
  • However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.

Earlier Updates

  • Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
  • Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
  • WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
  • The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.


West Notes: Mariners, Sandoval, Hudson, Astros, Castro, D’backs

The Mariners were in the mix for free agent catcher Russell Martin, reports MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. It is not clear exactly what Seattle’s plans would have been with young backstop Mike Zunino, had they managed to land Martin, but it seems fair to assume that the club was only looking at the catching market for that specific player. Going forward, though, this report supports the idea that the M’s are indeed prepared to spend on the open market.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, plans to speak with the Giants by phone this evening after wrapping up a lengthy visit to Boston yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. His client could be on the horn as well, says Rosenthal. It is not yet known whether Sandoval came away from his visit with the Red Sox with a firm offer in hand.
  • Veteran Giants righty Tim Hudson says he is likely to retire after 2015, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “I have one more year left on my contract, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it after this season,” Hudson said. “I just started my workouts yesterday, which is kind of crazy to me.”
  • The Astros are readying for another, “fresh look” at the possibility of working out extensions, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last year, of course, the club pursued several long-term deals with younger players, ultimately locking up Jon Singleton. Renewed exploration of a deal with catcher Jason Castro remains possible, said Luhnow, though Drellich reports that no talks are taking place at present. The catcher has consistently said he would be interested in a new deal to stay in Houston for the long run, though his name has come up as a possible trade candidate.
  • Discussions went pretty far down the line last year, with Drellich reporting that the club made Castro an offer after his stellar 2013 season. Per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, that offer would have promised the now-27-year-old around $10MM for 2015-16 while conveying two option years (covering Castro’s first two seasons of free agent eligibility) to the team. Had they been exercised, the deal’s total value could have reached about $25MM. It is not hard to see why he declined that proposal, as Castro is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM this year even after a rough 2014 campaign.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock takes a closer look at Ed Lewis, the Diamondbacks‘ newly-minted director of baseball analytics and research. Needless to say, Lewis’s background — he is a veterinarian by training — is an unusual one for a MLB executive. But chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says that Lewis has a track record of working with baseball numbers. “Ed gave me my first introduction to advanced analytics when he worked with our offensive preparation in St. Louis and I’ve always been impressed with his intelligence and integrity,” said La Russa (via press release). “It was clear that [GM Dave Stewart] and [president/CEO Derrick Hall] were also very impressed by his wealth of knowledge. He is a scientist who is mathematically inclined and he knows the game. Most importantly, he understands our approach to it.”

Sandoval Has Discussed Five-Year Deal With Red Sox, Giants

The Giants and Red Sox have been rumored to be the main suitors for Pablo Sandoval all offseason, and the switch-hitting third basemen has discussed a five-year deal in the $80-90MM range with each club, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). Crasnick adds that things could come together quickly for Sandoval, and says that Boston is a serious player for his services.

Sandoval is known to be in Boston right now and met with the Sox yesterday in addition to having a second meeting scheduled for today (as Tim Dierkes tweeted this morning). The Padres are also said to have expressed recent interest, but some expected suitors such as the Yankees, Marlins and Blue Jays have shown limited interest at best.

Five years is a significant offer, of course, but agent Gustavo Vasquez had no issue in telling the media that he was seeking a six-year pact for his client and cared more about the length of the deal than securing a gaudy average annual value. Tim penned a Free Agent Profile for Sandoval just yesterday, pegging him for that six-year term when all is said and done.


AL East Notes: Jays, Sox, Sandoval, Lester, Yankees, Scherzer

The Blue Jays were the only team that put a fifth year on the table for Russell Martin, tweets Jim Bowden of of ESPN.com, and that was the key to landing the backstop. With Toronto having fired the first major offseason salvo in the AL East, let’s see where things stand elsewhere in the division …

  • Martin’s signing does not mark an early conclusion to the Blue Jays‘ offseason, but rather opens up new possibilities for GM Alex Anthopoulos, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. The move also highlights Anthopoulos’s desire to “rearrang[e] the clubhouse dynamics,” says Davidi.
  • Pablo Sandoval met with the Red Sox today, and the club will also sit down with Jon Lester before the lefty flies off for meetings with other suitors tomorrow, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Boston never made an effort to acquire Jason Heyward before he was sent to St. Louis, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
  • The Yankees are largely waiting and watching at the moment, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. It is possible that the Rangers would be willing to part with shortstop Elvis Andrus, but it remains unknown whether New York would take on enough cash or part with sufficient prospects to make a deal attractive to Texas. And the team’s own free agents still seem to be feeling out the market at present.
  • King notes that an arm like Max Scherzer could become increasingly appealing to the Yankees as the offseason progresses, and indeed Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that there has been at least “brief contact” between the team and Scott Boras (Scherzer’s agent) since the GM Meetings. New York “may revisit their initial instinct to largely sit this winter out,” per Heyman, who explains that the silence around Scherzer’s market is rather unusual.

Free Agent Profile: Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval has a case as the best free agent hitter this offseason, and demand is strong.  The third baseman reached free agency at age 28, putting an exclamation point on his year with another huge postseason.

Strengths/Pros

Sandoval is a career .294 hitter who has hit .315 or better in multiple full seasons.  Known for his incredible hand-eye coordination, he makes contact about 87% of the time.  His consistency in this area has been uncanny, as he’s never dipped below 86.5% or risen above 86.9% in any of his six full seasons.  What’s more, Sandoval has no clear weakness, as Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs explained.  He can hit pitches in and out of the strike zone, he can hit all types of pitches, and he can hit with two strikes.  In 2008, Sandoval told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, “I like every pitch, no matter where it is.”

Pablo Sandoval

Sandoval’s weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 114 from 2013-14 ranked ninth among third basemen.  This stat is park and league-adjusted, giving Sandoval some credit for playing in a pitchers’ park.

Sandoval’s postseason heroics in 2012 and 2014 are legendary.  He won the World Series MVP in 2012, hitting .500 with three home runs as part of an excellent postseason overall.  This year, he raked to the tune of .366/.423/.465 in the postseason.  Just 28 years old, Sandoval has already collected three rings with the Giants.

Though he’s a big guy, Sandoval plays a solid third base.  His ultimate zone rating and defensive runs saved marks were both above average this year.

We’ve mentioned that Sandoval is just 28 years old.  Such youth is a rarity for a free agent, and it’s a function of Sandoval reaching the Majors at age 21 and not signing an extension that gave up free agent years.  The unique cases of Cuban free agents aside, Sandoval is the youngest prominent free agent hitter along with Colby Rasmus, who was born on the same day.

Weaknesses/Cons

For all his postseason success, Sandoval’s regular season was his worst with the bat since 2010.  His 6.1% walk rate was a career-worst for a full season, and it resulted in an unspectacular .324 on-base percentage.  And while Sandoval flashed 25 home run pop early in his career, he’s averaged about 15 per 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons.  He’s slugged just .416 over the last two campaigns, 67th among qualified hitters.  This year in the regular season, Sandoval was roughly the hitter Trevor Plouffe, Daniel Murphy, or Brett Gardner was.  Those are above average hitters, but not middle of the order cornerstones.

Sandoval’s baserunning has always been a detriment, bringing his overall value down.   He has totaled 7.9 wins above replacement over the last three seasons, 81st in baseball among position players.  He’s in a virtual tie with guys like Jon Jay and Jed Lowrie, who might be described as useful but are certainly not considered stars or among the best as their respective positions.  By measure of WAR, Sandoval ranked 14th among third basemen this year, seven spots below fellow free agent third baseman Chase Headley.

Sandoval is listed at 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, making him one of the game’s heaviest regular position players.  He’s been at least 30 pounds heavier than that at different points.  Using pounds per inch, Daniel Meyer of Beyond the Box Score noted, “Deep into the history of the past 143 years of recorded baseball history no player of Sandoval’s proportions has played more than a season’s worth of games at third base,” making Sandoval a trailblazer in what he’s done already.  His weight raises questions about how well he’ll age, his future durability, and when he might have to move off the hot corner.  Talk about Sandoval’s weight and conditioning have followed him throughout his career, as chronicled by Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today in February this year.

Since he received and turned down a one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer from the Giants, signing Sandoval will require draft pick forfeiture.

Personal

Sandoval was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.  He was born left-handed but learned to throw with his right hand at the age of nine so he could play catcher.  Switch-hitting followed his switch-throwing a few years later.   The Giants signed him in 2003 at age 16, as a catch-and-throw specialist behind the plate.

Sandoval is an exuberant player who usually has a smile on his face and is beloved by fans.  He is nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, a name bestowed on him by teammate Barry Zito in 2008 when Sandoval scored a run by jumping over the catcher’s tag.  The nickname took off, with thousands of Giants fans making Panda gear ubiquitous.

Sandoval has two daughters and resides in Venezuela in the offseason.

Market

So far in free agency, Sandoval has been pursued heavily by the Giants and is in Boston today for a meeting with the Red Sox.  The Padres, Blue Jays, and White Sox have also been connected, and agent Gustavo Vasquez met with most or all of the teams at last week’s GM Meetings.  Just to expand the field as far as possible, teams such as the Yankees, Tigers, Astros, Angels, and Marlins don’t have third base entirely locked down even if they haven’t been linked to Sandoval recently.  Sandoval has been a member of the Giants for his entire career, and after past championships the Giants retained their players.  Prior to the season, the Giants reportedly tried to start the conversation with a three-year, $40MM offer with Sandoval seeking five years and $100MM+.

With Aramis Ramirez having re-signed with the Brewers, Sandoval’s third base competition consists of Headley and perhaps Hanley Ramirez.  Headley holds the advantage of not being eligible for a qualifying offer.  Plus, his defense-oriented profile won’t cost nearly as much.  The trade market at third base is light, with perhaps Luis Valbuena, David Freese, Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez, and Plouffe in the mix.

Expected Contract

Perhaps because of the postseason, his age, or the promise Sandoval showed in years like 2009, this is a player who is valued by the market well beyond his regular season statistics.

Vasquez has come right out and said his client is focused on the length of his deal and that six years would be reasonable given his age (Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting).  Most agents don’t speak about that publicly, and most also seek one year more than they might privately expect the player to receive.  I think in this case, Vasquez really does expect six years, and Sandoval will receive such an offer in the end.  It is difficult to picture seven years unless that seventh year comes very cheaply.

Expectations seem to be for an average annual value of $18-20MM for Sandoval.  I’m going with a six-year, $114MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Padres Interested In Pablo Sandoval

The Padres are interested in in third baseman Pablo Sandoval, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Sandoval has also been connected to the Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays and White Sox.

The idea of the Padres as contenders for one of the offseason’s top free agents is somewhat odd. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported last week that the Padres were listening to trade offers for young pitchers Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, not a strong sign that the team was considering spending big in the free agent market. They have been connected to Yasmany Tomas, although Tomas is only 24 and might be seen as more of a future-oriented signing than Sandoval would be. (It was later reported that the Padres were not likely to sign Tomas.)

The Padres currently have Yangervis Solarte, who’s coming off a productive season, slotted at third base, although the versatile Solarte could be moved to a different position if the Padres were to sign Sandoval. The team traded longtime third baseman Chase Headley to the Yankees in July.


Cafardo On Lester, Hamels, Iwakuma, Sandoval

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Dodgers‘ outfield surplus could net them a solution to their shortstop situation.  Los Angeles isn’t expected to re-sign Hanley Ramirez and with underwhelming options on the open market, it stands to reason that the Dodgers could explore trading from their strongest area to find a replacement.  Earlier this week, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged that “the best course of action” would probably be to trade one of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, or Carl Crawford.  More from today’s column..

  • While Jon Lester is reportedly receiving “legitimate interest” from six interested clubs, some are skeptical about his market.  “Really? Six teams are going to be six years at $150 million for Jon Lester?” said one NL executive. “Sounds like agent enhancement of his client to me.”
  • The Red Sox have already shot down a couple of proposals from the Phillies involving Cole Hamels.  Cafardo expects the Phillies to reopen talks with Boston.
  • The Mariners have fielded inquiries from a few teams on Hisashi Iwakuma and the Red Sox have had at least internal conversations about the 33-year-old right-hander. The Mariners, meanwhile, would want an impact hitter like Yoenis Cespedes in return.
  • It’s expected that the Red Sox would want to offer Pablo Sandoval a contract with bonuses that would reward him for staying within a certain range.  A Giants official told Cafardo that Sanoval lost almost 30 pounds in the offseason only to gain 20 of them back during the season.  The CBA forbids teams from taking money away from players for gaining weight, but they can incentivize staying trim.
  • Mark Mulder continues to work toward a comeback but he indicated to Cafardo that he’s not 100% sure it will happen.  Mulder was making a run at it last offseason when during one of his workouts he tore his Achilles.  Afterwards, the hurler returned to ESPN as an analyst.
  • Rival scouts have worked hard to cut through the hype in their evaluations of the Red Sox‘s pitching prospects.  The biggest debate concerns Henry Owens and how his 92-mile-per-hour fastball and slow curve would play in the big leagues.  Meanwhile, some believe that left-hander Brian Johnson might be the best pitcher in Boston’s system.
  • Cafardo reported last week that the Tigers are listening to trade proposals on Alex Avila and mentioned the Braves and Red Sox as possible suitors for his left-handed bat. Today, Cafardo added the Cardinals as a team that could see him as a solid backup option.

Free Agent Notes: Sandoval, Miller, Martin, Gomes, Carter

The Red Sox are trying to set up a visit to Boston for Pablo Sandoval, perhaps as early as next week, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Sandoval has drawn interest from four clubs, per Cafardo, but the Red Sox and Giants are the two most serious suitors. David Ortiz has been pitching Boston to Sandoval and trying to persuade him away from San Francisco, Cafardo hears.

Some more free agent notes as baseball news slows down following the conclusion of the GM Meetings…

  • A hefty 22 teams have reached out to agent Mark Rodgers regarding Andrew Miller, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Heyman adds that one team that’s unlikely to make a play for Miller is the Cubs, who are more focused on lengthening their ‘pen with lower-profile acquisitions. Reports yesterday indicated that the Cubs were out on David Robertson as well.A
  • Heyman also writes that the Dodgers are serious about making a run at Russell Martin but still facing competition from the Cubs, Pirates and Blue Jays. The Pirates, Heyman hears, are said to have already made a strong bid to retain Martin. Despite their acquisition of Francisco Cervelli, he notes, the Pirates are not out on Martin.
  • Six clubs have shown interest in Jonny Gomes to this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The Cubs are believed to be one of those clubs, though Gomes isn’t close to any kind of decision and is still “early in the process.”
  • Right-hander Anthony Carter, who spent this past season in Japan, will not have his mutual option with the Nippon-Ham Fighters exercised, MLBTR has learned. Carter technically has to clear waivers in Japan before he can become a free agent and become eligible to sign with a Major League organization or a different club in NPB. The 28-year-old posted a 3.97 ERA in 45 1/3 innings of relief in Japan this season and has a lifetime 4.93 ERA at Triple-A. His best season came in 2013 with the Red Sox when he posted a 3.47 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 at Triple-A.