Pablo Sandoval No Longer Starting in Boston
In news that should be at least a little gratifying to all SF Giants fans, the Red Sox have decided that Travis Shaw will be the BoSox starting 3Bman going into the 2016 season. Even with four full seasons left on his five year $95 million deal (and more than $75M still owing), I now feel safe in saying with certainty that the Giants dodged a bullet when Pablo Sandoval decided to sign for roughly the same money to play in Boston.
The Red Sox’s decision may have been made in part the day when Pablo walked into camp looking as fat as a just blood-fed tick. Pablo actually played pretty well this spring with an OPS over .800.
Shaw was a little better this spring and was a little healthier. However, the promotion of Shaw to a starter’s role suggests the Red Sox wanted to send a message to Pablo. Shaw is 26 years old, and while he hit .270 with an .813 OPS in 248 plate appearances last year in his first major league season, those numbers were higher than either Shaw’s career minor league batting average or OPS.
In short, Shaw is not the kind of young player you build a team around or displace a guy you gave a $95M contract to only the year before, at least, not unless you are trying to light a fire under the guy with the big contract. After the 2015 season Pablo had, coming into 2016 camp as overweight as ever really deserved a strong response from management.
I think the odds are reasonably high that Matt Duffy will suffer a Sophomore Slump season in 2016, not least of all because he didn’t walk much in his rookie season. He walked more in the minors, though, and how quickly he learns to lay off the pitches that got him out late last year will have a lot to do with what kind of season he has in 2016.
However, it just seems extremely unlikely that Duffy isn’t going to be worth more than Sandoval this season in terms of the dollars spent by their respective teams, even if Duffy slumps and Sandoval quickly performs his way back into (and/or Shaw under-performs his way out of) the Red Sox starting line-up.