The San Francisco Giants‘ thin talent pool in the minor league ranks has made signing slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval a priority. The Giants simply do not have the type of depth needed within their own system to replace a player of Sandoval’s caliber without venturing into the free agent market. Sandoval is entering the first contract year of his big league career and is rumored to be seeking a deal similar to what the Giants handed right fielder Hunter Pence over the offseason, according to multiple reports.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com recently reported that Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez of SPS Sports Group, has officially turned down a three-year, $40 million offer from the Giants. Vasquez strongly believes that his client is capable of registering big numbers this season, which would supplant his status as perhaps the second best free agent available next offseason, next to Hanley Ramirez. Sandoval has supposedly lost 40 pounds and will begin the 2014 campaign in the best shape of his career.
At this juncture, it’s highly unlikely for Sandoval to strike a new deal with the Giants before the regular season begins next week. The 27-year-old owns a career .298 batting average with 90 home runs and 389 RBI over six big league seasons. His numbers have been mostly solid throughout his career, but consistently diminishing isolated power is somewhat of a concern. Sandoval played in 141 games in 2013 but registered the lowest isolated power numbers of his career.
Sandoval has combined to hit just 26 home runs over the past two seasons. He nearly surpassed that number in 2011 alone when he crushed 23 long balls. His slugging percentage and OPS have slowly deteriorated on a season-to-season basis since 2011. While Sandoval’s agent fights for a monster contract, the Giants appear wise to stand pat, especially considering Sandoval’s recurring weight problem which is not simply a thing of the past, regardless of what Sandoval’s camp believes.
The Giants remain approximately $50 million removed from re-signing Sandoval. It’s a concerning dilemma for the Giants, who truly do not have the option of failing to re-up with their lovable fan favorite. Giants’ investors aren’t overwhelmingly concerned with a glaring void at third base, though. They’re more interested in future payroll obligations. At the moment, the Giants have roughly $400 million of future payroll locked up, accounting for just 12 players. It’s the third highest figure in baseball, making the notion of inking Sandoval to a long-term extension somewhat counteractive in terms of sustaining a healthy bank account.
Sandoval is key to the Giants’ potential success. He was instrumental in their 2012 World Series title run, bashing a record-tying three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 Fall Classic. Sandoval was the face of the Giants’ resurgence, in part with Tim Lincecum, when they reclaimed relevancy in 2009 in the wake of the post-Bonds era. The Giants will surely look to find a middle ground with Sandoval’s representation, but it doesn’t appear likely for the Kung Fu Panda to re-up with San Francisco.