From Peter Gammons:
General managers from other teams don’t think the Giants will let Pablo Sandoval go, but Sunday one member of their ownership group said there is a swelling thinking that the Red Sox will end up signing The Panda. “The bigger the stage, the better he plays,” says one Giant official. “He would love Boston.” Of course, the Giants sell out every game, the debt service on the ballpark is paid off in 2017 and it is one of the most valuable franchises in the game.
With few impact hitters on the market (or in Major League Baseball, for that matter), the competition for Sandoval’s services will be fierce. And the Red Sox, who finished 2014 in the cellar, will be ridiculously active. There’s really nothing to lose from Boston’s perspective, as Sandoval would be a near-perfect replacement for David Ortiz (who turns 39 next month) as the team’s designated hitter if the former’s physical condition and/or defensive skills erode after age 30.
But the Giants’ wealth really can’t be overestimated at this point. The debt service is just about done, and the Mission Bay project is just beginning. Even if they fall short in these next two games in Kansas City, they’re virtually guaranteed to keep selling out AT&T Park for at least a few more years. With all that in mind, I expect the Giants to re-sign Sandoval even if the contract appears ridiculous at first glance.
I realize this is a dramatic change of tune, as I wrote back in April that the Giants’ future salary obligations and other reasons (weight issues, semi-contentious negotiations before the season) could convince them that letting Sandoval walk is the smart move. But a few things have changed since then.
- Bruce Bochy came out and said Buster Posey would not play third base in the future, leaving the Giants with very few options if Sandoval leaves.
- The Giants embarked on a long, lucrative postseason run fueled in large part by Sandoval, who followed up a Gold Glove-caliber regular season with a fantastic performance at the plate in these playoffs (he’s hitting .338).
- The ascension of Yusmeiro Petit means the Giants probably don’t have to go out and sign an expensive arm in the offseason (depending on Jake Peavy’s price, anyway).
Also, have you seen the amount of foam panda heads people are wearing this month at AT&T Park? How about all the panda signs? And don’t forget the thousands of traditional panda hats that’ve already been sold. The Giants will tender a qualifying offer, which would give them a compensatory pick late in the first round if Sandoval signed with another team. But unless Larry Baer and Brian Sabean got to a point where their relationship with Sandoval’s representation devolved into an out-and-out feud, there are too many reasons — both on and off the field — to re-sign Sandoval after this season.