Giants corner infielder Pablo Sandoval is drawing interest as the July 31 trade deadline comes closer, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports California. The question is whether the out-of-contention Giants will get a good enough offer to justify dealing the fan favorite, Pavlovic notes.
The second San Francisco act has been a successful one for Sandoval, whose career looked as if it was nearing an end when he signed a minor league contract with the Giants in July 2017. At that point, the Kung Fu Panda was coming off a terrible two-plus seasons with the Red Sox, who lured him away from the then-reigning World Series champion Giants on a five-year, $95MM guarantee entering the 2015 campaign. The switch-hitting Sandoval owned three World Series rings, a lifetime .294/.346/.465 slash (122 wRC+) and 20.1 fWAR over 3,533 plate appearances when he became a Red Sox.
Sandoval couldn’t have been much worse during an injury-limited stint in Boston, where he batted .237/.286/.360 (72 wRC+) with minus-1.8 fWAR in 620 PA. The Red Sox declared Sandoval a sunk cost when they released him in July 2017, and they’ll continue to pay him through the end of the current season.
With Sandoval a few months away from reaching free agency again, it makes sense for the out-of-contention Giants to gauge interest in the 32-year-old. Sandoval has boosted his trade value by offering resurgent production in San Francisco, especially during a 2019 campaign in which he has hit .286/.324/.571 (128 wRC+) with 10 home runs and 1.1 fWAR in 173 trips to the plate. There are red flags accompanying that output, however. As has been the case throughout his career, Sandoval has been a liability against left-handed pitchers. He’s also benefiting from a .327 batting average on balls in play – his highest since 2009 – and may have a difficult time sustaining a .286 isolated power mark that’s 118 points above his career average.
Of course, just as there’s cause for skepticism in regards to Sandoval’s numbers, there are reasons to expect he’ll keep it up. Sandoval ranks near the top of the majors in exit velocity (70th percentile), expected batting average (87th percentile), hard-hit rate (87th percentile) and expected slugging percentage (93rd percentile), according to Statcast. And Sandoval’s expected weighted on-base average (.373; 83rd percentile) is almost identical to his .372 real wOBA.
Although Sandoval isn’t the $95MM player the Red Sox mistakenly saw him as five years ago, he’s clearly back to serving as a useful contributor. Adding to his appeal, Sandoval’s essentially making the league minimum as the Red Sox foot the majority of the bill on him until his contract runs out. Those factors could certainly help the Giants find a taker for Sandoval over the next month.