Though Pablo Sandoval and the Giants have tabled extension talks during the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the two sides at least got a bit closer together in terms of contract length during negotiations. The Giants initially pitched a “conversation-starting” three-year, $40MM extension and then expressed an openness to do a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year.
Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez were known to be looking for “at least” a five-year, $90MM deal and Heyman hears that they’re actually aiming for a five-year contract in the $100MM range or more. As MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker indicates, only a few third baseman have found five-year/$100MM+ contracts in recent years and none of those big deals came on the free agent market. (Alex Rodriguez was a shortstop when he signed his initial free agent deal with Texas, and obviously that contract isn’t at all comparable to Sandoval’s situation.) The Giants have been proactive in signing their own stars to extensions, though as Heyman observes, the fact that they haven’t yet done so with Sandoval and are seemingly taking a harder line in negotiations is rather telling.
While a five-year, $100MM deal could be available to Sandoval on the open market given the relative lack of impact free agent bats next winter, a number of factors could cloud Sandoval’s case. He’ll obviously need to improve from his slow start to the 2014 campaign, his market could be dampened by a qualifying offer from the Giants and teams around the league (like the Giants themselves) have concerns about Sandoval’s conditioning. Heyman quotes both an NL scout and an NL executive praising Sandoval’s hitting ability but questioning his ability to stay in shape.
Vasquez implied to Heyman that he isn’t planning to reopen talks, as the Giants “know what they have [in Sandoval], I’m sure.” The agent also said that the Giants wanted to settle the extension “in a rush,” which would seem to counter the belief that the team was waiting to determine if Sandoval’s offseason weight loss would stick before deciding on whether to offer an extension.