Brandon Belt

Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval San Francisco Giants

Don’t let the slow start or his agent’s cavalier ways fool you. Pablo Sandoval is going to get paid, and he’ll probably get what he wants — a contract worth as least as much as the extension Hunter Pence signed at the end of the 2013 season. Whether Sandoval’s next lucrative contract comes from the Giants is unknown, but yesterday Brian Sabean made it sound like the chances are slim.

“We’ve given our best shot with good faith intended to try to get him signed and they’ve drawn a line in the sand that we’re not going to beat nor should we meet,” Sabean told CSN Bay Area’s Jim Kozimor on Yahoo Sportstalk Live Tuesday. “Things have been tabled and we’ll see what happens up the line, but we’re not going to have ongoing talks from this time forward.

“At this point the organization has put its best foot forward and (Sandoval’s agents) have decided it’s not to their liking, and we understand that and that’s the reason it needs to be tabled. He needs to concentrate on baseball right now. I think he might be pressing a little bit because it’s in his head one way or the other. But now it’s definitely been shut down at least for the time being. I think he needs to get on with baseball.”

The Giants want Sandoval to play well this year, because they know this could be their last chance to glean some value from his bat and glove. Because even if Gustavo Vasquez negotiated in “good faith” and Sandoval wanted with all his heart to remain in orange and black, it might not be feasible considering next year’s payroll and the emergence of another player in his 20s with an animal nickname.

Future obligations

The Giants are on the hook for $126,927,777 in 2015 … to just 12 players. If Sandoval gets the deal he’s seeking from San Francisco, they’d be on schedule to pay $145 million or so to 13 players. Throw in seven arbitration-eligible players — headlined by Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford — and the Giants are going to have a hard time keeping their payroll close to their 2014 Opening Day figure of over $154 million, even without Sandoval.

Ryan Vogelsong can probably be replaced in the 2015 starting rotation with someone who’s currently in their minor league system. But it’s not just Sandoval’s spot in the starting lineup they’d need to figure out. Michael Morse is on a one-year deal, and Marco Scutaro’s health is clearly a huge question mark.

Money isn’t a problem for San Francisco, but they’ve made it clear that — unlike the Dodgers — they’re still working with a budget. Figuring out a way to pay Sandoval “market value” and working within their preferred payroll number looks like a nearly impossible task, unless the Giants figure out a way to trade Matt Cain and his $20 million-plus salary. Good luck.

Future stars

It’s not Sandoval’s start that’s affecting the Giants’ plans, because they see that he’s pressing and they know that he’s a capable hitter. On the other hand, Belt’s start has to give them pause. If Belt blossoms into the team’s best power hitter, that takes away an option on those days when they want to give Buster Posey a bit of a break without benching him.

If the Giants want Posey to play 145 games but only catch 125, where else could they put him? That’s when we come back to the third base debate. Posey has made it clear that he’s not interested in becoming a full-time third baseman, but (and this is just an assumption) I’d imagine he’d be open to the idea of playing third base on occasion if that’s what the team needs.

If Belt had any sort of future as a part-time left fielder, we’d know that by now. Two straight Springs have gone by without the Giants even trying him out there, and he’s one of the better defensive first basemen in the league (much better than Posey). And if the Giants signed Sandoval to a deal in the $90-100 million range, there’s no way they’d consider sitting him in lieu of Posey.

Speaking of great starts, Fresno Grizzlies catcher Andrew Susac is probably the hottest hitter in the PCL right now, hitting .476 with just one strikeout in 23 at-bats. The logjam at catcher is coming, and that could also influence the Giants’ plans.

The future is still fuzzy

By no means am I saying the Giants are through with Sandoval, although Sabean’s comments were pointed and show that he’s probably sick of dealing with Team Sandoval, at least for now. The fact that the Giants have negotiated with Sandoval show that they’re interested, but they’ll need to see a fantastic season from Sandoval to consider coming close to the contract terms he’s requesting/requiring. And even if he puts up great numbers in his walk year, the Giants may look at their future obligations and options and decide to let him walk.

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17 Comments on "Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval"

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Bay Area Stats Guy
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Just to play devil’s advocate a bit, according to Forbes and Bloomberg the Giants are not hurting for money, they have the Wealthiest owner in all of baseball. Plus the trajectory of baseball revenues seems to be going in a very good direction for the medium term.

If they want to have him on the team money really shouldn’t be an issue in not being able to keep him around.

The other stuff is all valid, but it does open a hole at third base that might not be exactly easy to fill if he isn’t here in the future.

AdrianReynolds
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AdrianReynolds

YEP. Spot on.

Scout6
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Scout6
Not sure I agree. If they let Sandoval go, Posey wouldn’t have to be open to playing “some” third base, as the Giants would not have a third baseman. I am not sure Sabean wants to rely on a plan that shifts his very valuable catcher to third base and bring in Susac to replace him. At least not next year. That’s why I think he only offered 3 years to begin with.  Honestly if Sandoval only wants 5 years, I do not think it’s crazy to go that long with him. By then you should know where Posey is… Read more »
T
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T
1) There is no room for Sandoval?  Is he that big now?  maybe just get him a bigger locker and stool.  Or maybe one of those recliners? 2) Yes, the 2014 Opening Day figure is about $154 million.  But that is not a cap and should not be treated as a cap.  This is the sort of thinking that goes against what the Giants did in 2010 and 2012. 3) I do not see Posey becoming a full time 3rd baseman.  But I do see Belt progressing and eventually taking over for Pablo in the lineup.  I think Belt can… Read more »
Bay Area Stats Guy
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The Giants could raise the payroll but probably won’t go crazy. When all is said and done they probably chose Pence over Pablo.

Mike
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Mike

@T  It makes zero sense to move Crawford to 3rd base. His value comes primarily from the fact that he’s a fantastic defensive SS. Moving him to 3B absolutely destroys that value.

Beaver
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Beaver

All the Giants have to do is raise ticket, beer and parking prices.  That way, Pablo can get paid and ownership can maintain their profit margins!  Together (our team, your money) We’re Giants!

MikeDunleaveMeHangin
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MikeDunleaveMeHangin

It never helps that he’s by far the highest-profile client of a guy who recently

MikeDunleaveMeHangin
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MikeDunleaveMeHangin

I’m no expert … but I suspect it doesn’t bode well for the G-Men’s hopes of striking a reasonable deal that Pablo is by far the biggest and highest-profile client of an agent, the aforementioned Gus Vasquez, that
1) recently started his own agency
2) is far from a household name, and 
3) whose next highest-profile client – Sal Perez of the Royals – is arguably best known for signing that super early extension with 3 team options, which is increasingly considered one of the most team-friendly contracts in the game.

RobMixon
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RobMixon

The Giants have had Arias lanqyishing on the bench as a utility player. Let Pablo go, play Joaquin until you can land a good hitting 3rd basement. Pablo is not going to help the Giants this year and these contract woes is entrenched in his head..

ogc
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Some additional points this article didn’t cover. First, Bochy said in the off-season that Belt would be playing 1B full-time, with a few days off, around 150 games, and that Posey will not be getting as many starts at 1B as he had in previous years, that they are shooting for around 140 starts as catcher.  Plans do change but I have not heard any from Bochy in the meanwhile.  So Belt’s great hitting didn’t change Bochy’s plans, he was already planning on playing him a lot at 1B. Second, every team works from a budget, even the Dodgers.  That… Read more »
ogc
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BAStatsGuy  The issue isn’t annual payroll budget money:  they’ve already offered him $13.3M on average already, going to $18M isn’t breaking the bank for them if they think he’s worth it. The problem is that he’s asking for a lot more AAV money, basically paying him as the premier 3B of the majors (except for A-Rod) when he hasn’t done that yet.  People seem to think that AL teams will throw money at him just because they can DH him.  True, they will probably offer more years, but they won’t necessarily give him more than the $13.3M AAV that the… Read more »
ogc
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Bay Area Sports Guy Scout6  Oh, that was the impression I got too, that it was your opinion. I agree that it’s not too late for either side, but if Pablo’s side sticks to their Pence demand, Pablo better start hitting like it’s 2009 if he wants that much money, because that was Sabean’s point, based on past history and market precedence, Pablo is worth around the 3 years, $40M deal he was offered.  That puts him 5th most in the majors for 3B, almost middle in-between the big three and Prado, who is making $10M AAV. Normal negotiations would have… Read more »
ogc
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@T  Bochy has said it twice now, with no mention of any other spot, and it makes sense:  it’s not as dangerous as 2B physically, and he’s still above average hitter there, while at 1B, he’s merely average.  Posey is moving to 3B eventually, I would bet on it. Belt has already progressed and surpassed Pablo, did you not see his 2013 season?  He’s already ready. Crawford at 3B is an interesting option, as that would open up SS for Adrianza.  With Crawford hitting better, that could work, he has the power to do nicely there.  But I think Posey’s… Read more »
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