2015 already feels like such a long time ago.
Back then, Pablo Sandoval was one of the premier signings of the offseason, having inked a five-year, $95 million contract. This was to lock him into playing the hot corner in Boston until 2019 and force open the next window of contention for the Red Sox. Optimism was guarded, but high. After a injury-plagued, loss-filled 2014 season, we all expected a rebound for the team in 2015, and Sandoval would be one of the reasons why.
2015 was a dumpster fire, mostly. 2016 happened with very little Panda involvement. 2017 didn’t even come with a dead cat bounce for the third baseman. Sandoval barely made it halfway through his contract before being released, and three years post-signing, that contract is regarded as one of the worst in recent memory, and definitely Ben Cherington’s worst signing, if not the worst transaction of his tenure as general manager of the Red Sox.
So, now that we’ve started this off on a good note, let’s take a look at what Sandoval did this season!
What Went Right
Back when we still had hope for him, Sandoval did a thing!
And after he went back to the San Francisco Giants and continued to flounder for a while, he did another thing!
He wasn’t all bad — just 95% or so.
What Went Wrong
Saying everything else feels like hyperbole, but it really was everything else. The comeback from shoulder surgery never materialized, as Sandoval posted a paltry .215 TAv in 108 plate appearances for the Red Sox in 2017, and saw dwindling time in the field in lieu of guys like Josh Rutledge. His glove was still missing in action, couldn’t get consistent starting time, and was the recipient of some bad luck, even if his overall offensive output was a detriment to the team.
Sandoval went on the disabled list with an ear infection on June 20th, and never wore a Red Sox uniform again. The Red Sox kept him rehabbing in the minors as long as they possibly could, designated him for assignment on July 14th, and finally released him five days later. The Giants signed him to a minor league contract on July 22nd, and you can find my analysis for that move over at BP.
It’s really hard to overstate just how bad he was in Boston. Overall, his tenure saw him churn out an accumulated -1.8 WARP over 620 PA. Nothing about him was consistently good, with any aspect of his game ranging from mediocre at best to disastrous at worst. When Deven Marrero — Deven Marrero! — is keeping even with you offensively, you know you’re pretty abysmal at the plate. The difference between Sandoval and Marrero, however, is that Marrero is a wizard with a glove, and Sandoval — well, let’s just say he wasn’t very magical out there. Thus he became a $40 million benchwarmer, and the Red Sox ate the money to rid themselves of him.
It wasn’t a good signing to begin with, and it turned out even worse than anyone could’ve imagined. There’s no sugarcoating something that was this bad.
What To Expect
Nothing for the Red Sox, not anymore. He’s still with the Giants, and they have very little to lose by keeping him on the roster for now. Would it be cool to see him succeed again? Sure would! Is it likely? Not really, no. Sandoval wasn’t the type of player that would age gracefully, and at 31 years old, that shortened aging curve is really taking him for a downhill ride. There’s probably some decent baseball left in him, but if the Giants release him sometime next year, that’s probably it for the Panda. There’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been said, but you can only wish things had gone better with him.
Photo by Patrick McDermott – USA TODAY Sports