Nearly three years after the Boston Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a five-year, $95 million deal in free agency, Sandoval's failed tenure in Boston now is at the end. On Friday, it was announced the team designated him for assignment after years of disappointment in terms of production and availability due to multiple stints on the disabled list.
Fresh off his second World Series with the Giants, the Red Sox hoped Sandoval could become their answer at third base and see his numbers blossom even further in the American League before he eventually became the designated hitter and produce for years to come. Instead, Sandoval's tenure ended summed up his time with Boston, being on the disabled list.
Across three seasons in Boston, the 30-year-old third baseman played in just 161 games due to a variety of injuries. Weight remained a persistent problem for Sandoval, as it did in San Francisco. Despite reports every spring training that the turnaround would come and he would be in the best shape of his life, the production never came with it.
In 620 career plate appearances with the Red Sox, Sandoval posted a .237/.286/.360 slash line, .646 OPS, .282 wOBA and 70 wRC+. The power that many hoped would fully blossom in American League parks never came either as his .123 isolated power more so resembled a light-hitting, defensive-based middle infielder.
But years of injuries sapping some of his once impressive athleticism and his increased size turned Sandoval from an above average defender at the early stages of his career into one of the worst at his position in the last three years. Amongst players with 1000-plus innings at third base since 2015, Sandoval ranked 31st in defensive runs saved (-18) and 35th in UZR/150 (-20)
Still owed nearly $50 million remaining on his contract, Boston will eat that as it ends a relationship that never worked out for either side. Boston's front office now will continue to look for an upgrade at third base before the July 31 trade deadline.
For Sandoval, he'll certainly become a free agent and then evaluate his options from there. Boston's large media market and devout fan base never seemed to match his personality and the soon to be 31-year-old no longer has production at the plate or enough marks defensively to generate much interest. He should receive minor-league deals, but the days of the "Kung Fu Panda" at the major-league level might be over.