Hands down, Pablo Sandoval's five-year contract with the Red Sox will go down as one of the worst free-agent signings in baseball history. Boston will end up paying him $95 million to hit .237/.286/.360 (71 OPS+) with minus-2.0 WAR in 161 games. Ouch.
The Red Sox officially cut ties with Sandoval on Friday -- they still owe him the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019 -- and at some point soon he will become a free agent able to sign with any team for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. He just has to clear waivers first, which will definitely happen. No one is taking on that contract.
What's next for Sandoval? Well, how about a return to the Giants? Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports says Kung-Fu Panda would love to return to San Francisco, and the Giants have kicked around the possibility. From Heyman:
People close to Sandoval say he would "love" to go back to the Giants, no matter what he said shortly after he exited San Francisco, where he had some memorably-spectacular October moments and also a few rocky times, as well.
As for the Giants, word is that some Giants people have spoken behind the scenes about the possibility, and they suggest it could be a consideration – though officially, they aren't talking about it. Asked Saturday about a possible Panda reunion, Giants GM Bobby Evans would only say, "I can't get into speculation one way or other on a player under contract elsewhere."
Regular third baseman Eduardo Nunez recently returned from the disabled list and is hitting .297/.321/.413 (95 OPS+) overall this season. He is an impending free agent, however, and with the Giants owning baseball's second worst record, they figure to trade Nunez at the deadline. Rookie Jae-Gyun Hwang hit a home run in his first MLB game but has struggled since.
For the Giants, the decision would boil down to this: do we bring Sandoval back at the league minimum the rest of the season, or do we see what Hwang or Ryder Jones or another young player could give us instead? Neither Hwang nor Jones is a top prospect, so it's not like the Giants would be blocking a potential cornerstone player. Sandoval is still only 30, so he might have something left in the tank.
As bad as the Giants have been this season, they strike me as a team that will take a small step back and go for it next year rather than tear things down and rebuild. Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are in their primes, and they want to do as much winning with them as possible.
Could Sandoval be a championship-caliber player again? Maybe! The Giants have to decide whether it's worth it to find out.