Pablo Sandoval is entering his last season under team control and that puts the Giants in a tough spot of figuring out whether to offer him a contract extension now or wait until the end of the year.
Andrew Baggarly has speculated that if the Giants don’t get an extension done before the end of spring, this is likely Sandoval’s last season as a Giant. I’m not sure I buy that, but if he has even a decent season it probably means he will be much more expensive.
The idea of extending Sandoval is an interesting question. There is no doubt that he is a very talented player; his 2009 and 2011 seasons were outstanding, his 2012 and 2013 were injury plagued but above average and no one will forget his performance in the Giants’ World Series victory over the Tigers.
On the downside there is the question of his size, which has been an issue since he broke out in 2009 and has gone up and down over his career.
What makes the idea of a long term deal a bit nerve-racking is that he reported to the team much larger than the team would have liked in 2013, and he didn’t seem all that apologetic about that in an interview with Jeff Passan. Without the carrot (no pun intended) of playing for a mega-deal, will Sandoval have the discipline to stay in good enough shape to remain an above average player?
The one bright sign on the weight front, is that this offseason he has done his workouts on his own, without the team guiding his every move. The results are evident in the photo seen here. Perhaps Sandoval will be able to maintain this new routine into the future and end, once and for all, all of the #FatChat stuff.
So now comes the big question, how big of a contract is Sandoval looking at?
Looking for free agent comparables isn’t very helpful because over the last few seasons there hasn’t been an above average third baseman available who wasn’t already into his mid-30s. The last big contact for a third baseman was awarded to Adrian Beltre in 2011. The other possible comparable — and perhaps a better fit — was the extension Ryan Zimmerman signed in 2012 that is just kicking in for this season.
Overall Zimmerman and Sandoval are fairly similar players offensively. Zimmerman has a career triple slash line of .286/ .352/ .477 compared to Sandoval’s .298/ .351/ .476, while Zimmerman is at 120 wRC+ for his career and Sandoval’s is 125. The only divergence is that Zimmerman is the better baserunner and also rates higher on defense (especially early in his career).
The other great thing for this exercise (no pun intended, again) is that Zimmerman signed his contract going into his age 27 season, the same age Sandoval is now. The only downside is that he was still two years away from free agency instead of one for Sandoval, but he was also a better and more consistent player so maybe that cancels out a bit.
Zimmerman’s contact pays him $14M annually from 2014 to 2018 and $18M in 2019, with a team option in 2020 for $18M. There is also a $10M five-year personal services contract tacked onto the end. Overall he is guaranteed $100 million for 6 years.
Using this as a baseline, to sign Sandoval the Giants are probably looking at a deal lasting five-to-seven years, with an average annual value of $16M-$18M a season. This would take him only into his early-30s, however the age curves for players with large body sizes isn’t especially pretty once they reach 30.
If there aren’t any extensions before the end of the year, the 2015 class of third basemen free agents could be the best in years with both Chase Headley and Hanley Ramirez also hitting the market. With no obvious in-house replacement, if the Giants aren’t sold on Sandoval they could try to sign a third baseman who currently plays for a division rival club instead.
Why can't they do a contract where Sandoval is required to meet certain physical benchmarks, either as a way out of the contract for the Giants, or constructed like a performance incentive?
Looking at the issue of re-signing Pablo from the standpoint of "what would be plan B?": the 3B free agent class for next offseason is the epitome of barren wasteland. The headliners are Chase Headley and Hanley Ramirez who are both more than 2 years *older* than Pablo. Then you get into the gritty grit grit vets like Aramis Ramirez, Ty Wigginton, Kevin Youkilis, Eric Chavez and Nick Punto. Who, as far as I can tell, are all gritty for the fact that they will all be over 35. Looking at the farm ... well if you squint really hard, maybe Adam Duvall is an option. (But you'd probably be wrong.)
Even with #fatchat and camp panda and hamate bones, Pablo is a better-than-decent, maybe-or-maybe-not-quite-elite 3B, and a 5 year deal only takes him into his age 32 season. And anyone who owns Verlander like Pablo does deserves the money!
@Jay Like I always say: Develop a decent farm system, and you are not starved for 'plan B'...the same problem they will have if Morse has a decent/good year. Having a 3rd baseman in waiting also pushes a guy like Pablo, who clearly needs motivation to stay in shape. LF and truthfully 2B are positions that will need to be dealt with at the end of this season, depending on Scutaro's performance.
Pablo is a very good 3rd baseman, and its a great point that even a 5 year deal will only take him to 32 yrs old. The catch is how to motivate him to keep the pork off.
Knowing the Giants, they will sign him to a five year deal during Spring training. Play it out, this is a risky signing and big commitment. I almost wonder if he lost too much weight and will be starved for power. his head looks like Barry's
The correct way to play this, for Giants front office, is let him play out this season, then worry about signing him. He's motivated to tear it up, so the Giants need to cash in on that.
Signing him now is WAYYYY too risky.
The way the Giants are talking, it sounds like they are sold if he comes in looking good and fit (enough). The question is how much money Sandoval's agents will want from the Giants.
I think $16-18M would be fair (I was thinking something close to Pence's deal would be fair and $16-18 covers that).
One important point you left out is that Panda's brother now appears to be living with him full-time as his full-time chef. His brother Mike helped him lose weight mid-season, which helped Pablo look a little better later in the season (as you noted, he came in with a bad attitude about his weight). And this continued into the off-season, and especially in Venezuela, where he had typically went to get fatter, not thinner, so the fact that he was finally able to do that on his own without Operation Panda, forcing him to do it, is a great accomplishment, I think, because I know how hard it is to lose weight.
Large body types probably do age poorly, but all reports I read on him while he was rising up the farm system noted his athleticism in spite of his body type, and I think that is what will enable him to be different from other large body sizes (like Fielder). For example, despite his body size, he led the majors in DRS runs saved in 2011, the one year he was truly in shape, you don't do that at 3B without some athleticism, whereas Fielder's only possible position has been 1B. A better comparison might be Miguel Cabrera, another former 3B, who did very well relative to his career last season at age 30.
But to your point, I don't think I would be comfortable going beyond 5 years for Panda.
@ogc With the Cards signing Peralta to 4yrs for about $13Million, I think the giants have to go around 5years to keep Pablo. So, the Giants might be forced to go five instead of four