Pablo Sandoval is playing out his age-27 season as one of the game’s better third basemen. Barring a last-minute run at an extension, he will enter the open market as one of the most desirable position players available. Though he doesn’t provide as much value at the plate as he did in the earlier part of his career, and is a below-average baserunner, Sandoval has produced consistently at a well-above-average rate with the bat and the glove. (And did I mention that he just turned 28 a little over a month ago?) Of course, he comes with questions of conditioning, though Sandoval reported in good shape this spring and has seemingly carried that positive vibe through the season. He should have a number of suitors awaiting him if he tests the market.
With a seller’s market awaiting him, it is hard to see Sandoval taking any sort of discount to re-up with San Francisco. But the club kept Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum off the market with late-breaking extensions last year, and GM Brian Sabean has recently given expression to the club’s oft-noted penchant for retaining its own players. (Of course, he also noted that difficult decisions will need to be made, and added that payroll will be an issue.) Sandoval is a highly marketable player for a large-market team that lacks an obvious replacement. He has spent his entire career with the Giants, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the Giants will look to make a run at him (whether through an extension or via free agency).
So, the question is simple: will Sandoval be back in San Francisco next year, or will he find a new home?