The Boston Red Sox and their fans seem to have put Pablo Sandoval behind them, but recent comments by John Henry seem to dispute that. The Red Sox owner believes he’ll be a big asset to the team in 2017.
No, John Henry was not high. At least no reports indicated that he was when he sat down with the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman. The Red Sox principal owner discussed many topics with Silverman, including John Farrell, David Ortiz, David Price, and interestingly Pablo Sandoval.
The remarks made by Henry may be a smoke screen, but what he said is what we have to go with for now. The most interesting thing that Henry said about Sandoval was how much the Red Sox needed him in 2017, and how he expects him to return to his usual self.
“Pablo is a supremely talented veteran and a proven winner. He knows exactly what he needs at this point in his career. With Papi leaving we absolutely need Pablo to return to the form we’ve seen in the past. This year and last were frustrating for him and frustrating for us. We need him next year.”
Overall, I’m not totally surprised that Henry said these things about Sandoval. After all, he is still employed by the Red Sox, and unless there is a release of his contract, the Red Sox will have major issues trying to find a trade partner for the 30-year-old third baseman.
Yes, Sandoval has been nothing short of one of the biggest disappointments in Red Sox free-agent signing history. Last season he had a horrendous slash line of .245/.292/.366, all career lows. This season, he had just six at-bats with no hits after being benched for Travis Shaw. His season was quickly ended with a mysterious shoulder injury that required surgery.
The major argument in Boston this offseason will be whether or not Sandoval is worth keeping around, and whether or not the Red Sox should attempt to get some help at the third base position. While many fans don’t care to see Pablo Sandoval in a Red Sox uniform again, he does have some value.
Sandoval was one of the best third basemen in the league from 2009 to 2014. With David Ortiz retiring, the Red Sox will need one of two things: a designated hitter and a clutch hitter. On top of that, the Red Sox are a young team who could use a playoff veteran whose had plenty of success.
Sandoval MAY be able to fill all those roles. His fielding was atrocious in 2014 and it would make sense to give him a shot in the DH spot. He was a career .294 hitter before joining the Red Sox, while David Ortiz has been a career .290 hitter in Boston. His power isn’t nearly close to what Ortiz’s is, but he is still a pretty consistent on-base threat. In five of his seven seasons in San Francisco, he had an OBP over .340.
Sandoval has also proven to be clutch, especially in the playoffs. He has a career playoff batting average of .344 (Ortiz – .295), he’s hit three home runs and driven in eight in World Series games, and was named the MVP in 2014.
The Red Sox have not been a good team at the third base position this season. Travis Shaw, who was hyped big time in Spring Training, has had a very bad past couple of months. Since June, he hasn’t had a batting average over .246 and in the second half, he’s hitting .184 with just five home runs 27 strikeouts.
Let’s not forget, the Red Sox have no intentions of signing a big name third baseman or making a trade for one. Yoan Moncada is tearing it up in AA and will probably be in Spring Training next season with a legitimate chance to play at third base for the Red Sox in 2017.
I’m not a huge Pablo Sandoval fan, and I think he deserves a lot of the hate that he has received in Boston; after all, the team did give him $95 million, and he is still owed $58 million through the next three seasons. However, the Red Sox don’t really have any better options, and unless they try to sign Edwin Encarnación to be the DH, Pablo is the best fit.
So no – John Henry was not high and Pablo Sandoval may be the Red Sox 2017 starting third baseman.