Friday afternoon, San Francisco Giants‘ general manager Brian Sabean held a news conference to discuss a variety of topics ranging from the organization’s ability to re-sign Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum to his decision to ink Barry Zito in 2007. But what stood out the most was his calling out of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who will be a free agent after next season.
“It’s up to Pablo,” Sabean told reporters in reference to next season’s outcome. “We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly with him. He’s in the last year of his contract and it’s time for him to step up for the organization. It’s in his court now. We’ve done everything we could.”
The thing is, Sabean is right. The reigning World Series Most Valuable Player was, obviously, key to the Giants’ title run in 2012. Especially without a true offensive power in San Francisco’s lineup, Sandoval needs to show up to Spring Training in February in the best shape of his life.
It’s almost hard to believe that in 2009, Sandoval’s first full season in the big leagues, he hit for an average of .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs. The Giants have been waiting for that version of Sandoval to show up ever since. Next season, Sandoval will have his last chance to revert back to that form.
Sabean can’t physically do anything to force Sandoval to get back into shape, but the money he can throw the “Panda’s” way should. If Sandoval is motivated by a long-term contract from the Giants, he’ll show up to Scottsdale in fighting shape. If the same underperforming Sandoval shows up again, Sabean will have little incentive to bring the fan-favorite back — and fans shouldn’t blame him.
Sandoval hit .364 with 6 home runs and 13 RBIs in 16 games during the 2012 postseason. That span was possibly the best the Giants have ever seen Sandoval play. That’s the player the franchise needs; that’s the player the franchise will be willing to re-sign.