There’s trade talk and trade chatter, and then there’s revealing late-night reports by a reliable baseball insider.
When it comes to the Boston Red Sox and Pablo Sandoval, there’s now all of the above.
Early Thursday morning, while Celtics fans were still basking in the afterglow of a miraculous regular season finale, Warriors fans were celebrating win number 73, and Lakers fans were coming to terms with the reality that they had just witnessed Kobe Bryant’s final game, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was publishing a report that all but guarantees that the Boston Red Sox and Pablo Sandoval are heading towards a divorce.
According to Passan’s sources, “Sandoval wants to stay in Boston only if he can play every day, and the Red Sox have no intention of playing him unless he loses weight and others in their current lineup struggle.”
That is quite a collection of circumstances needing to come to fruition.
Basically Travis Shaw needs to stink (so far no dice there,) or get injured, or David Ortiz would need to get injured, which would then allow Sandoval to assume the designated hitter role. Even that seems unlikely, primarily because designated hitters are expected to hit for at least a moderate amount of power, and Sandoval hasn’t hit more than 20 home runs in a season since 2011.
Wednesday afternoon the Red Sox placed Sandoval on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. They did so without requiring Sandoval to undergo an MRI, and there was no timetable set for his return.
All of which begs the question, is this trip to the disabled list a trip to rest his sore shoulder, or to give Sandoval time to lose the weight that most fans and reportedly the team had expected him to lose over the offseason?
Passan’s report suggests that Sandoval needs to lose weight, and even if that happens the Red Sox will not leap at the opportunity to insert a slimmer Sandoval into the everyday lineup. Why would they? Shaw is not only a better fielder right now, but last year he hit 13 home runs in 226 at-bats while Sandoval hit 10 in 470 at-bats.
Sandoval has not made a public beef about the move the to disabled list or the loss of his starting job. If anything he could be accused of being almost too accepting of the demotion. Wednesday he told John Tomase of WEEI that he wasn’t that frustrated with his situation.
“Why am I going to be sad?” he said. “Give me one reason to be sad, be mad. Why? Give me one reason. I’m alive. I have daughters, one son coming, so nothing to worry about.”
That’s a tough quote because on one hand, Sandoval prioritizing his family and focusing on the positives in his life is without question an admirable quality. On the other hand there does appear to be a disturbing degree of apathy with regard to his plight on the Red Sox.
The Red Sox are officially between a rock and a hard place. As it currently stands, Sandoval on the active roster is a waste of a roster spot. The longer he sits inactive on the disabled list, the more his trade value plummets.
Passan’s column implied that the Red Sox were going to be actively looking to deal Sandoval, but it made zero mention of any viable trade partner and even voiced skepticism about the Padres, a team that was at one time thought to be interested in Panda.
Trading Sandoval is going to be very tough. Forget about it while he’s on the disabled list. Once he’s active again, any deal will most likely involved the Red Sox paying a significant (think well over 50 percent) of his remaining contract, or including one or maybe even two attractive minor league prospects in the deal and it might even include elements of both scenarios.
One thing looks almost inevitable. No matter how bad anyone ever envisioned the Pablo Sandoval scenario playing out, no one ever thought it would get this bad, this soon.