When the Boston Red Sox signed former San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a five-year, $95 million contract in November 2014, they thought their gaping hole at the hot corner would be filled. Looking back, why wouldn’t they? After the abysmal 2014 season that Will Middlebrooks put up, third base was Boston’s primary focus during the off-season. By inking a third baseman, the Red Sox could move prized prospect Xander Bogaerts back to his natural short-stop position.
Sandoval, who was 28 at the time of the signing, had spent his entire seven-year MLB career in San Francisco. His tenure as a Giant was highlighted by three World Series victories (2010, 2012 and 2014). Sandoval was named World Series MVP in 2012. In 167 post-season plate appearances, Sandoval had a career .344/.389/.545 slash line. With all that being said, the Fenway Faithful had every reason to be licking their chops in anticipation of the 2015 season.
What once looked like the piece the Red Sox needed to return to title contender status, now looks like one of the worst signings in Boston sports history. The first red flag was when Sandoval reported to 2015 Spring Training looking noticeably larger than normal. Now Sandoval has never been a thin guy, but it was evident he had put on some major poundage. A popular photo circulated around the internet of Sandoval’s gut hanging out of his shirt. Sandoval went on to post a career low slash line of .245/.292/.366 and his 10 home runs and 47 RBIs were the lowest since his rookie year. In addition to his offensive struggles, Sandoval was statistically the worst defensive third baseman in the entire league. Now if the on-field performance wasn’t bad enough, Sandoval also spent a fair amount of time on the disabled list (DL) and was suspended one game when he was caught liking photos on Instagram during the seventh inning of a Red Sox game in which he was in the lineup for. Sandoval admitted to going to the bathroom during the game and taking his phone with him.
After the 2015 campaign’s disappointing last place finish, Red Sox management reportedly asked Sandoval to lose weight during the off-season. While there are conflicting reports of what was said and who it was said to, it is clear that Sandoval spent more time with Little Debbie in the off-season than he did with his trainer. Not only did Sandoval report to 2016 Spring Training late, he showed up looking even bigger and more out of shape. This led to major scrutiny from Boston media, in which, Sandoval lashed back. Sandoval told MassLive.com that he lacked trust for the media. “I don’t pay attention to the media,” Sandoval said. “You guys can say whatever you want. At the end of the day, at the end of the season, if we’re doing well, you guys are going to be there. You guys are going to be talking good things or bad things if we’re doing well or not. I hope if we be doing well, you guys keep talking crap about it. So I don’t care what you say — what you guys say,” Sandoval added.
Sandoval’s lack of work ethic and poor performance lead new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski to release a statement saying that a player’s salary wouldn’t dictate playing time, meaning that third base would be an open competition between Sandoval and youngster Travis Shaw, who thrived at the end of the 2015 season when he was called up from Pawtucket. Shaw went on to win the competition and got the opening day nod at third from John Farrell after Sandoval had a horrendous spring training.
Sandoval’s limited action this season has been highlighted by errors and a snapped belt, which turned into a GIF that has been shared thousands of times over social media. The Red Sox training staff did Sandoval a solid in putting him on the DL with a bad shoulder, which apparently is a bigger deal than first thought. Sandoval’s former trainer Ethan Banning just came out and said Sandoval has a food addiction and needs to be babysat to be kept from eating. Just when things couldn’t get worse, they did.
The Red Sox need to dump this guy, even if that means starting a GoFundMe to help recoup his salary. I wouldn’t even let Sandoval play on my charity wiffle ball team. He’s that bad.