SATURDAY, 7:08pm: Sandoval’s contract includes 2018-19 club options for the major league minimum, but he’ll become a free agent at the end of this season if he isn’t on the Giants’ roster, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links).
1:43pm: The deal is now official, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Sandoval will head to Class A+ San Jose, then on to Triple-A Sacramento.
Here’s a statement from Sandoval about his return to the Giants in which he apologies for disparaging comments he made about the organization as he was in the process of leaving.
“I have always loved and appreciated the Giants organization, my Giants teammates and the fans of San Francisco. I have so many great memories and I want to thank the organization for giving me another chance to come back here. When I left the Giants in 2014, my comments were emotional, insensitive and misguided and I truly regret and apologize for my actions. I am committed to working hard to contributing to the success of the Giants.”
FRIDAY: The Royals are another team with interest in Sandoval, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link), though the third baseman is still expected to land with the Giants.
WEDNESDAY, 8:38pm: Sandoval says he’s “waiting for Friday to make a decision,” with the Giants being “one of [the] options,” per ESPN.com’s Marly Rivera.
7:17pm: The Giants have agreed to a minors deal with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Sandoval was released earlier today by the Red Sox, though the deal will not be formally entered until his contract has passed through waivers — which (all but certainly) will occur on Friday, Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com tweets.
While the match had been rumored, and is rather unsurprising on paper, it’s still quite a notable reunion for a player who was once one of San Francisco’s most visible stars. Both Sandoval and the Giants have had seasons to forget thus far. The former was released by his most recent organization after a third-straight season marred by injury and underperformance. And the latter currently sits five games back of the Padres in the NL West cellar.
Sandoval, now thirty years of age, was a popular and productive player for seven seasons with the Giants. Over his 3,533 plate appearances, Sandoval slashed a robust .294/.346/.465 and compiled about twenty wins above replacement. That performance earned him a five-year, $95MM contract with the Red Sox, who’ll pay the vast majority of the nearly $50MM remaining (less any prorated portion of the league minimum for time Sandoval spends in the majors from now through 2019).
The Giants tried to keep the affectionately nicknamed Panda, but extension talks never materialized and he spurned the organization in free agency — suggesting in comments at the time that he was happy to be moving on. But Sandoval never found his footing in Boston. His longstanding battle with weight was again an issue, and Sandoval missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury. He got into shape and showed well this spring, but endured a DL stint for a knee problem and struggled both at the bat (.212/.269/.354) and with the glove (-6 DRS; -8.6 UZR/150 innings) over his 32 games in 2017.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Sandoval can jump start his career in the place he once thrived. First, though, he’ll have to earn his way back to the big leagues. It’s important to bear in mind that the sides won’t be committed to one another for very long even if things go well. Unless the deal provides the club with an option of some kind — and it is fair to note that Jose Reyes agreed to such terms with the Mets while the Rockies were paying his contract — then Sandoval will return to the open market at season’s end. That said, it’s possible to imagine an extended reunion if things go well, as the Giants don’t yet have a clear plan for the 2018 season at third base.