This is a sad day for Panda fans — if there are any left. The Boston Red Sox have designated third baseman Pablo Sandoval for assignment, effectively ending his time with the team.
If you haven’t heard about Sandoval in awhile, there are several reasons for that. One is that he’s been sidelined with injuries for roughly half the season. He missed all of May with a right knee sprain, and was on the disabled list with an inner ear infection until Friday morning, when he was activated and then designated for assignment.
You also haven’t been hearing about Sandoval because he hasn’t been hitting well. In 32 games this season, he’s hit just .212/.269/.354 with four home runs, eight walks, and 24 strikeouts. Looking at the team the Red Sox have assembled, which is overflowing with youthful talent, Sandoval’s bat just isn’t cutting it.
Sandoval’s 2 1/2 year tenure with the Red Sox has been troubled. From the start, he didn’t look like the player he was with the San Francisco Giants, where he’d been a beloved All-Star and an offensive standout. Sandoval’s first year with the Red Sox was disappointing (he hit .245/292/.366), but it was a pleasure cruise compared to his second year. Sandoval spent almost the entirety of the 2016 season on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
At the start of the 2017 season, things seemed to be looking up. Sandoval came to Red Sox camp early to start training, and he had slimmed down considerably during the offseason. (He’s also been widely criticized about his weight, criticisms fueled by his injuries and poor performance.) Sandoval hit over .300 in spring training, and it seemed like a Panda renaissance was close at hand. But then the regular season started, and he struggled right out of the gate and just kept right on struggling.
Cutting an underperforming player isn’t necessarily news, even when the Red Sox do it. But it is news because the Red Sox signed Sandoval to a five-year, $95 million contract at the end of 2014. Just halfway through the deal, the Red Sox have decided that it’s better to move on without Sandoval. But even though they’re moving on, the team is still on the hook for the remainder of his contract. They’ll have to pay the rest of his $17.6 million salary for 2017, and the combined $37.2 million he’s owed for 2018 and 2019. There’s also a $5 million buyout for 2020.
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