Monday, November 24, 2014

Sox Sign Sandoval

As expected, Sandoval signed with the Sox (RantSports)
Shortly after the Boston reached a five--year, $90 million agreement with Hanley Ramirez, they landed another prized free agent bat in Pablo Sandoval. Of the three teams that offered Sandoval approximately five years and $95 million (San Diego and San Francisco were the others), Boston was Sandoval's choice (wonder how much Fenway Park played a role in that).

The Red Sox said they were all-in on Sandoval and willing to do whatever it took to get him. Seeing as how they got their man, I guess they weren't kidding.

While I was initially hesitant about the six years and $100+ million I expected Sandoval to receive, I'm much more comfortable with the actual terms. The deal covers Sandoval's age 28-32 seasons, meaning the Red Sox can expect Sandoval to be productive over the life of the contract, especially at the beginning when he's still in his prime. He might even be able to man the hot corner for the entirety of the contract, though I wouldn't be surprised to see him DH frequently when David Ortiz retires.

More importantly, adding Sandoval makes the Red Sox significantly better in the short-run. Boston third basemen--mainly a combination of Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts with a dash of Brock Holt--batted just .211/.271/.308 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI last year. Those numbers wouldn't play at shortstop, let alone one of the corner infield positions. Much was made about punchless Red Sox outfield last year (looking at you, Jackie Bradley Jr.), but third base was actually the team's least productive position OPS-wise.

In Sandoval, Boston now has one of the best-hitting third sackers in the game. Since debuting in 2008, he's been the sport's seventh-most valuable third baseman per fWAR while maintaining an .811 OPS and 122 wRC+. His numbers should receive a significant boost from Fenway as well. A switch-hitter with solid power and on-base ability, Sandoval beefs up Boston's lineup considerably and projects to be about a three-win player.

He's also a beast in October, which means something to a perennial contender like the Red Sox. Sandoval is coming off a postseason in which he notched 26 hits--an MLB record. A proven postseason performer, he also has the highest batting average (.344) of anyone with at least 150 plate appearances in the playoffs. Sandoval was part of three World Series winners with the Giants and has shown the ability to succeed under pressure.

Adding Ramirez and Sandoval to a lineup that already features Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Yoenis Cespedes, and Shane Victorino gives Boston some serious thump, which is exactly what they need after fielding one of the American League's five worst offenses last year. Now they must focus on adding arms, either by splurging for Jon Lester or packaging prospects (possibly Bogaerts now that Boston has an All-Star shortstop and third baseman) to the Phillies for Cole Hamels. The Red Sox have already committed close to $200 million for just two players in the past 24 hours, but they still need to go the extra mile and acquire a frontline starter or two.

Otherwise, they're going to be just like the many good but not-good-enough teams of Red Sox past--plenty of bats but short on arms.

No comments:

Post a Comment