The Boston Red Sox in recent years have had more misses than hits in the free agent market. They found a willing partner in the Dodgers to take a bunch of fat contracts off their hands when they shipped Adrián González (7-years, $154 million), Josh Beckett (4-years, $68M), Carl Crawford (7-years, $142M) plus Nick Punto and cash so they could start over. Today they may have admitted to another mistake.
Pablo Sandoval, with a 5-year, $95 million deal in his back pocket, found out the BoSox are moving on without him at the hot corner as Travis Shaw was given his position to start the season. Both players had similar offensive numbers this spring so it came down to who had the better glove. Shaw won that, hands down.
“My focus is on the guys that are in uniform, not what’s attached to them or what their contract states,” said manager John Farrell. “We’re all about evaluating and what’s best for our team not so much the better player, but what’s best for our team at the moment for us to begin the season. So to disconnect from a financial figure, that’s about putting the best team on the field.”
With the demotion, would Farrell and the Red Sox have made the move if Sandoval had a prototypical Panda season? In seven years with the Giants, he was a lifetime .294 hitter with 106 homers and 462 RBI. In his first season in Boston, he slumped to .245 and was never the production threat he was in San Francisco. His defense was nothing short of blasé making 15 errors in just 293 chances.
So the question remains, was Sandoval’s contract another strikeout for the organization? Right from the start his weight was questioned and it appeared to affect his defense. Many simply brushed it off as the three-time World Series champ was simply a big guy, but as the season progressed the criticism grew more intense. When he signed the contract no one could have thought a change in his status would come this soon.
Farrell also made some headlines when he said that Rusney Castillo was bumped down to the fifth outfielder. This is news because he just inked a 7-year, $72 million contract that runs through 2020 with just 90 games and 329 at-bats in his brief major league career.
With back-to-back last place finishes, are the Red Sox already in panic mode? Getting off to a solid start will quiet the restless Boston fans, but if they don’t you can bet the faithful will be jumping ship by June.
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