Pablo Sandoval arrived in Boston late Monday afternoon and will listen to the Red Sox’ recruiting spiel for most of Tuesday before he leaves early Wednesday.
Given the buying frenzy going on in baseball, with a record deal for Giancarlo Stanton ($325 million from Miami) and Russell Martin getting a mind-boggling $82 million from Toronto, it might behoove the Red Sox to take out the checkbook and sign Sandoval before he gets back to San Francisco.
Some Red Sox fans seem to be hung up on the fact that Sandoval is visiting Boston before Jon Lester, and if the Sox sign Sandoval to, say, a five-year, $90 million deal, they won’t be able to sign Lester.
We all know that’s hogwash. They have the funds to sign both players and add Andrew Miller at four years, $32 million, plus a second-tier starter at $10 million-$12 million per year, and a lefthanded-hitting backup catcher in the $5 million-$7 million range.
There’s no issue with money. They have plenty of it.
It’s a matter of how they allocate it, what deals they deem good value.
The Red Sox need a lefthanded hitter and a third baseman. The switch-hitting Sandoval fits what they’re looking for. His upside is exuberance and energy, and the fact that he is a postseason stud. The downside is his weight.
But he is very quick for a big guy. The hope is that he doesn’t get any bigger. If he doesn’t, the Red Sox would have a 28-year-old hitter whose next five years should be the prime of his career. That’s what they are looking for in a long-term commitment.
The risk is fairly low. Sandoval can hit. Even if he gets a little rounder, at worst he becomes a DH.
Sandoval came up in the Giants organization as a catcher and threw out 43 percent of runners in his 176 games at the position in the minors. But he simply didn’t work hard enough to make himself a top defensive catcher. His offense played better at another position, so he went to third base. And he has made himself into a very good third baseman.
Sandoval didn’t play in a hitter’s park in San Francisco. His ability to inside-out balls lefthanded makes him a natural for Fenway Park.
Part of Tuesday’s recruitment undoubtedly will be getting him familiar with the Green Monster, selling him on playing with David Ortiz, and playing for a team that won a World Series just a year ago.
And while San Francisco may tug at his heart, counting his money and playing in a ballpark suited to his talents has to count for something.
Sandoval should get a deal approximate to what the Giants gave Hunter Pence in 2013 — five years, $90 million — considering that he just led the Giants to their third World Series title in five years. Will the Red Sox offer more?
The Red Sox need to oversell him, just as the Cubs have to oversell Lester on growing with a young team and being the leader of that staff.
When the Red Sox entertain Lester later this week, he can skip the meet-and-greet part and get right to the dinner/offer. Their last offer to him was four years, $70 million. Will they go from that to six years and $140 million? And if they do, doesn’t Lester say, “Uh, so why four at 70 to begin with?”
The Red Sox are in need of a No. 1 starter, and Lester would fit that. As would free agents Max Scherzer and James Shields, and trade candidates Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Hisashi Iwakuma.
If there are Sox players close to untouchable in a trade, they would be Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Henry Owens, though the Red Sox could part with one of them — but definitely not two — in a deal for Hamels.
The Red Sox will try to sway a trade partner toward their pitching depth — Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster — and shortstop Deven Marrero, second baseman Sean Coyle, third baseman Garin Cecchini, first baseman Travis Shaw, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and other prospects.
Landing a top pitcher in a trade will have to hurt. It may be unavoidable to deal one of the Big Four.
The Sox could seek a front-line starter with a deal for Yoenis Cespedes, who is in the final year of his contract. A deal with the Phillies could go the prospect route or the Cespedes route.
The Sox also need a second pitcher and are likely to tap into the secondary free agent market for that. Justin Masterson would be high on their list because of John Farrell’s familiarity with him.
Masterson was recovering from three different injuries last season, when he went 7-9 for the Indians and Cardinals. If he is OK, he could get back to being the pitcher he was 2-3 years back when it appeared he had figured things out.
As for backup catcher, general manager Ben Cherington is not saying how many games the Sox will commit to using Christian Vazquez, which leaves open the possibility of a lefthanded-hitting catcher coming aboard.
Among those in that category would be Detroit’s Alex Avila (whose $5.4 million option was just picked up), Houston’s Jason Castro, and Oakland’s John Jaso. Cherington has said the Sox could still bring back David Ross if they have enough lefthanded hitting. Ross is starting to draw interest from other teams.
Besides Cespedes, other Sox players could be traded. Daniel Nava has great appeal. Allen Craig’s value is at an all-time low, but there are teams who believe he is bouncing back and may be worth the gamble. Mike Napoli is a righthanded power bat who could be peddled. Shane Victorino would normally have value, but he’s coming off back surgery.
Cespedes was obtained for Lester, so you could make a similar deal in reverse for a front-line starter, provided the team adding Cespedes feels it can sign him to a long-term deal.
Then there’s the Andrew Miller derby.
According to his agent, Mark Rodgers, activity on Miller is “robust.” The Red Sox are one of 22 teams who have shown interest. Now it’s getting to offer time, when the serious bidders separate themselves. The Red Sox are expected to be one of them.
It’s anyone’s guess how high the salary and years get on Miller; we’ve heard anything from three years at $21 million to four years at $32 million.
If the Red Sox are unable to land Miller, they’ll likely go after Luke Gregerson or Pat Neshek.
So with a very aggressive postseason developing, the Red Sox have a captive audience in Pablo Sandoval.
They should seal the deal.