Pablo Sandoval Rumors

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.

Pablo Sandoval Rumors: Wednesday

Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…

  • The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
  • Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
  • Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).  Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda.  Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding.  The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”

Red Sox Notes: Sandoval, Lester, Farrell, Bradley

Here’s the latest on the Red Sox:

  • An executive with another team says that Boston is “all-in” on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN.com. GM Ben Cherington discussed the team’s interest with reporters today. “We’ve met with several [agents], including [Vasquez], and had good constructive conversations with a lot of guys already,” he said. “All those conversations will continue. I don’t expect anything to happen this week, or maybe in the near term. This may play out. I expect many [conversations] to continue over the next few weeks.”
  • Cherington says that the Red Sox have no hard and fast rule against giving long-term deals to slightly older starting pitchers, Edes reports. “It’s never been a hard policy,” he said. “We’ve made exceptions, and I’m sure there will be another exception. It’s a case-by-case thing.” As for Lester, specifically, Cherington said that he is “interested in having a conversation with him” and has some added comfort level given the team’s familiarity with Lester. “We need to add to our rotation,” Cherington added. “He’s obviously a known commodity, a proven guy in our market. He’s of obvious interest.” Both Cherington and fellow GM Jed Hoyer of the Cubs foresee a slow-developing market for starters, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • The Sox are open to discussing a contract extension with manager John Farrell before the start of the year, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. As things stand, Farrell is under contract for 2015 with the club holding an option for another year.
  • Boston still sees Jackie Bradley Jr. as a future everyday center fielder, Cherington tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. After a productive season in the field and sub-par campaign at the plate, the 24-year-old has perhaps lost some of his luster, though that could be in part due to expectations that raised wildly last spring. “I do think there are some teams that think of him that way — as they should,” Cherington said. “We think of him that way. We don’t know on what date that will happen, but we certainly still think of him that way — as an everyday-caliber center fielder.”

Blue Jays Notes: Martin, Kawasaki, Phillies

The Blue Jays are in on several top free agents as the offseason kicks off.  They’ll meet with Pablo Sandoval‘s agent Gustavo Vasquez today, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.  Reps for Victor Martinez spoke to the Jays recently, and there’s reportedly a meeting on the books with Russell Martin‘s agent as well.  Further details on Canada’s team…

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos preached flexibility yesterday.  According to Davidi, Anthopoulos said, “We’re going to try to take the best player available, and we’re not locked into one thing, like we need a defender at first base, we need a pure DH. It depends on what becomes available to us.”  Edwin Encarnacion can be deployed at first base or DH, while third base could be opened up by using Brett Lawrie at second.
  • Martin, a Canada native, turned down the Blue Jays before the 2010 season because the Yankees offered more playing time behind the plate, according to Davidi.  Davidi feels that of all the Blue Jays rumors, Martin may be the one with the most substance.
  • The Jays are looking at Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar in center field next year, barring a trade.
  • Infielder Munenori Kawasaki is leaning toward a return to Japan, but Davidi says he might be swayed by a Major League contract.
  • The Jays called the Phillies about Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Antonio Bastardo, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.

NL West Notes: Sandoval, Dodgers, Hellickson

Could a clause regarding Pablo Sandoval‘s conditioning be written into his next contract?  ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick addressed the question, noting that a Sandoval contract could include bonuses rewarding him for staying at or under a certain weight.  Similar clauses have existed in other players’ contracts in the past, though the CBA doesn’t allow a team to reduce salary (or halt it altogether) if a player is over a set weight limit.

Here’s some more from around the National League West…

  • The Dodgers haven’t been having any internal discussion about bringing back Hanley Ramirez on a new multiyear deal, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team is looking at shortstops in free agency and the trade market, and the Dodgers aren’t necessarily looking at short-term players to fill the position until prospect Corey Seager is ready.  “The limited supply at the position makes it hard to put a lot of rules on it,” Friedman said. “We’re going to try to acquire the best player we can and, if we wind up having depth there, that’s a good problem to have.”  As Saxon notes, Seager could eventually end up as a third baseman.
  • The Diamondbacks probably aren’t the ones “moving closer” to acquiring Jeremy Hellickson if the Rays are indeed approaching a trade with an NL team, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.
  • Both Carlos Quentin and the Padres seem to “recognize what would be in their mutual interest” in regards to a trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  A deal to an AL team would allow Quentin to rest his knees in a DH role, while the Padres can get at least a bit of Quentin’s $8MM salary for 2015 off their books.  While Quentin is probably open to waiving his no-trade clause, the greater question will be if a trade partner can be found given Quentin’s injury history.  Padres GM A.J. Preller recently said that the club wasn’t looking to move offensive players until some new bats were acquired, so releasing Quentin isn’t yet an option.