Oh boy. I have not done one of these posts in a few years. The last one was Carl Crawford. Well this one definitely lives up to his dubious legacy. With his release just a few days ago, it is time to talk about The Panda.
Like Crawford, I was a big fan of Pablo Sandoval prior to his time with the Red Sox and I was thrilled when Boston acquired him. I even advocated attempting to trade for him earlier in his career. Despite his size, he was a decent hitter, and a surprisingly good defensive player at one point. He was also a terrific post-season performer. Unfortunately, none of that carried over to his time with the Red Sox.
Sandoval signed a big $90 million contract to play third base with the Red Sox in December 2014 as part of an attempt to add offense to the team. In what would turn out to be his only full season in Boston, he hit just .245/.292/.366 with ten home runs and 47 RBIs, a marked decline from his numbers in San Francisco, despite now playing in a hitters park for the first time in his career. His defense was also horrendous, making him pretty much a complete waste.
The next season, he somehow managed to get even heavier. He ended up losing his starting job at third to upstart rookie Travis Shaw. The highlight of his season was breaking a belt while swing (and missing) at a pitch. He played just three games before going down with a season-ending injury, striking out four times in seven plate appearances. There was some talk that he could be activated for the postseason, but Boston did not make it far enough.
It was during this injury that some hope began to fester, Sandoval made an appearance with the team and had lost considerable weight. Sandoval made it to Spring Training camp in great shape and played quite well. There was finally the possibility that he would start to make his contract worthwhile. His power stroke returned as he hit a few home runs early on, but when he was not hitting the long ball, he was striking out often and making otherwise weak contact. Through 32 games, he was hitting .212/.269/.354 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. But he was getting hurt and playing bad defense.
Despite Boston getting next to no production out of third base, the Red Sox gave up on Sandoval after he was ready to be activated from the DL. After two and a half seasons, Sandoval gave the Red Sox 161 games of a .237/.286/.360 line with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs. That would not have been acceptable for one full season, much less three. And so, The Panda was a bust.