Scouting The Trade Market: Pablo Sandoval


Regardless of whether Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension is upheld or overturned, the Yankees have a question mark at third base heading into next season. His continued injury problems can not be ignored. If A-Rod doesn’t miss a bunch of games due to suspension, he’ll miss them due to injury. That has been the case since 2008 and it would be foolish to think 2014 will be any different.

The free agent market for third baseman is okay at best, with either Juan Uribe or Jhonny Peralta headlining a crop that includes Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, and Michael Young. Peralta is coming off his Biogenesis suspension and Uribe just had a career year at age 34, so everyone comes with questions. The trade market is another option, with Chase Headley being the big name. Others available via trade may include Will Middlebrooks, Trevor Plouffe, David Freese, and former World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.

Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo reported the Giants will “probably listen to anyone who had interest” in the 27-year-old Sandoval, which I suppose is true of every player. There appears to be a little more something to this, however, considering the one they call Kung Fu Panda is falling/has fallen out of favor with San Francisco because of his weight issues. The team has tried pretty much everything. Add in speculation they may move Buster Posey out from the behind the plate to protect him from injury and wear-and-tear — third base is an oh so natural fit — and Sandoval could very well be on the block. Is he a fit for the Yankees? Let’s break it down.

The Pros

  • Sandoval is a true switch-hitter who is better against right-handed pitchers (122 wRC+ in 2013 and 136 since 2011) but still playable against lefties (98 wRC+ in 2013 and 100 since 2011). He’s also a remarkably consistent low strikeout hitter. Here, look at this graph. Couldn’t possibly be any more consistent.
  • Despite his reputation as a free swinger, Sandoval actually draws a fair amount of walks. His 8.0% walk rate this year is almost exactly league average, and over the last three years it’s 7.8%. No one will mistake him for Nick Johnson, but he’s not exactly Adam Jones when it comes to walks either.
  • Sandoval is a surprisingly solid defender at the hot corner. His three-year defensive stats at third (+5 DRS, +9.5 UZR, +0.8 FRAA, +6 Total Zone) range anywhere from average to above-average, plus he has experience at first base and came up through the minors as a catcher. That ship has sailed though, he’s an emergency third catcher at best.
  • Thanks to San Francisco’s recent success, Sandoval has plenty of big game and postseason experience. He didn’t play all that much during their 2010 title run but he was a monster in 2012, hitting .364/.386/.712 with six homers in 16 playoff games. That includes three homers in Game One of the World Series (two off Justin Verlander), a performance that led to him being named MVP.
  • Sandoval is under contract for an affordable $8.25M next season and will qualify for free agency next winter. He will not chew up a big chunk of payroll either next year or several years down the line.

The Cons

  • The elephant in the room is Sandoval’s ongoing weight and conditioning problems. He is listed at 5-foot-11 and 240 lbs. on the team’s official site but has shown up to camp closer to 280 lbs. a few times now. The Giants have tried everything to help him get his weight under control, including publicly threatening to send him to the minors if he didn’t get in shape this past summer. It’s worth noting Sandoval came to Spring Training noticeably slimmer in 2011 and went on to have the best season of his career (149 wRC+ and 5.5 fWAR).
  • Sandoval is not the most durable player in the world, playing in only 366 of 486 possible games the last three years. He has had hamate surgery on both wrists (right in 2011, left in 2012) and has also been on the DL with a hamstring strain (2012) and a foot strain (2013). There was speculation the foot problem was due to his weight, which is completely plausible. Sandoval also missed time in Spring Training this year because of bone chips in his elbow.
  • Even though he’s still an above-average hitter, Sandoval’s performance is trending downward. His average has gone from .315 to .283 to .278 these last three years, his ISO from .237 to .164 to .139, and his HR/FB% from 16.0% to 9.5% to 8.3%. Overall, he’s gone from a 149 wRC+ in 2011 to 117 in 2012 and 115 in 2013. Like I said, still above average, but trending in the wrong direction.
  • You aren’t getting anything out of Sandoval on the bases. He is 11-for-23 (48%) in stolen base attempts in his career (3-for-8 since 2011) and over the last three years, he’s taken the extra-base (first-to-third on a single, etc.) just 29% of the time. The league average is around 40%.

I think the fit for the Yankees is pretty obvious. By acquiring Sandoval, they’d be getting a legitimate switch-hitter with power — he averages 20 homers per 162 games played, which is pretty impressive in massive AT&T Park — who can step in and bat in the middle of the order. They’d also get a solid defender at a hard-to-fill position and (gasp!) get younger. If they can’t get his weight under control and Sandoval stinks, they wouldn’t be stuck with him long-term. If he’s great, they could re-sign him or recoup a draft pick next winter.

Plenty of guys similar to Sandoval have been traded one year prior to free agency in recent years, giving us decent amount of comparables for a potential trade package. Among them are Kendrys Morales (one year of a starting pitcher), Shin-Soo Choo (a back of a top 100 list prospect and three years of an iffy outfielder), Carlos Quentin (two good prospects), and Josh Willingham (two good prospects). None are perfect matches but they get us in the ballpark, I think. Two quality pieces seem like the minimum, unless you’re giving up an established big leaguer.

Of course, the real question here is what do the Giants want? Even after re-signing Tim Lincecum, they still need to replace Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong. A starting left fielder or even a new third baseman could be on the docket. GM Brian Sabean isn’t one to make MLB player-for-prospect trades either. The Yankees shouldn’t give up Ivan Nova for one year of a player like Sandoval, but maybe the Giants particularly like David Phelps, Adam Warren, or Vidal Nuno. Building a package around one of those guys plus a second piece (Preston Claiborne? Zoilo Almonte? Eduardo Nunez!) would work for me. I doubt that would be enough though. Either way, if San Francisco makes Sandoval available, the Yankees should definitely inquire.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:

    I just want to know if the elephant in the room pun was intentional. You know… Because he’s fat…

  2. I'm One says:

    Phelps & Nunez. I’d do it in a heartbeat and drive them there myself (SF is a great city to visit). My preference is to stick with Warren & Nuno over Phelps, but including any one of those 3 would seem like a no brainer if paired with one other serviceable piece, such as those listed.

    • Preston says:

      Yeah that would be a definite steal. Although Phelps would be successful moving to the National League and a pitcher friendly park and we’d have to hear about how bad the Yankees are at developing pitchers when he has a sub 4 era next year as a good mid rotation starter.

    • jjyank says:

      Oh, absolutely. I’d give up one of Phelps/Warren/Nuno and Nunez without thinking twice. The question would be if that’s enough for SF, and my gut reaction is “probably not”.

  3. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I have an irrational love for the Panda.

    I’d drive two of Nuno, Nuney, and Zoilo myself to San Francisco for him, then stick around and have a burrito, some Cheese Board pizza, and Philz Coffee while I’m there, all on the Panda’s dime, then drive him back to NYC. The Panda is probably great on cross-country drives.

    Yes, he’d need to lose some weight, but I do think the Alex solution is more likely to come from the trade market, and this is a pretty damn good 2013 and, potentially, short-term beyond idea. I’m in.

  4. Dicka24 says:

    Sandoval is a real good player. He is always hurt though. He’d be a great fit for 1 year, assuming Arod is suspended for the 2014 season. At a Phelps and Almonte type deal, I think the Yanks would/should totally pull the trigger. I just think the price would be a little higher than that. Who knows, the giants might see Phelps’ low cost and starter potential as a real money saver for 4 years. Getting out of that park should help the Panda’s numbers too. SF is a real pitchers park.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I think we should do it even if Alex returns for Opening Day. I don’t say a way Alex even plays 120 games. I don’t see a way Jeter does so either playing SS every day. There should be enough DH at-bats to go around for both, with Panda playing third every day.

      Why isn’t this done yet, Cashman? You’ve had about an hour already since this post went up.

      • Preston says:

        I agree, he’s a great fit regardless. Alex, Jeter and to some extent Teixeira are all at risk of injury or being unproductive. It would be pretty easy to find the Panda 600 ABs between 3b, 1b and DH even if all of those guys play as often and as well as we’d hope.

      • mitch says:

        If they could get him for Phelps and Almonte it would have been done already. I think Phelps/Warren/Nuno + Austin/Heathcott would be more realistic and i’d probably do that too.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I wouldn’t.

          I wouldn’t use the latter chips on a one-year rental at third.

          • Preston says:

            I don’t know, this wrist issue with Austin has really slowed his development, and his ceiling was always more solid regular than star anyways. And Heathcott’s knees might prevent him from ever developing into what he could have. Plus he has big contact issues that could prevent him from ever making the show. I have big dreams of those two and Mason Williams all debuting in 2015 as 3 above average, cost controlled OFers. But it’s unlikely, and adding a player like Sandoval is a step towards contending now.

    • John C says:

      I agree. Giatns would probably ask for Rafael DePaula too, in which case, I counter with Brett Marshall.

      • Preston says:

        I think the Giants would be more interested in big league ready pitchers like Phelps, Warren, and Marshall. They have their front line starters in Bumgarner and Cain (if he bounces back) and they’re probably hoping Petit can be a contributor. But they are desperate for more back end types. None of their top pitching prospects are above A ball. They’re losing Lincecum, Zito and Vogelsong to FA, and I don’t think they are counting on Chad Guadin to pitch as well as he did last year again. If they are going to give up Sandovall they probably want an impact pitcher now, not a high upside lottery ticket like DePaula. Now the question is whether or not they view any of our back end candidates enough of an impact pitcher to move Sandovall.

        • jjyank says:

          I agree, but just a small nitpick: They re-signed Lincecum. But yes, they do still have two more spots to fill, so I think someone like Phelps or Warren would slide in nicely as a #4 starter in an NL pitcher’s park and help stabilize the rotation.

  5. Jedile says:

    Yeah Definitely would do this move. I like me some Fat Panda. Always had a love for the fat guy, he usually is in all my fantasy leagues!

  6. CashmanNinja says:

    I guess I’m not the biggest Sandoval fan here, but at the right price I’d take him in a heartbeat. Why? Because we need a 3rd baseman. End of story. I feel that a package that includes some of Warren/Nuno/Nunez/Almonte/Phelps would not be near enough to get Sandoval. I think it’ll be something more along the lines of Phelps, Nuno, Mason Williams, and a talented arm down in A ball. The Giants like him, he’s a fan favorite, and we’re desperate. It’ll take a bit to get him.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I don’t think it would take that much. One year of a player who does come with some concern. I don’t think you’d have to go further than the back-end guy and Nuney.

      • CashmanNinja says:

        I don’t think the Giants would let him walk so I view a trade for him as a potential long term deal since he’s going to get paid. There’s no way he hits the market or he’ll get a lot of money. So that’s why I feel the package would be bigger than that; because the Giants know we’re desperate and can’t miss out on losing him. We need him whether or not we have A-Rod; Nunez has proven we have no depth whatsoever there anyway.

        I think the Giants would be into Nunez because of his ability to uh, “play” shortstop as well as his ability to make contact. He seems to fit the mold of the Giants well with his contact/speed combo. If only Nunez wasn’t hurt so often and killed his trade value.

        But if they’d take some of the offers presented here then I’d be more than happy. I love having Adam Warren in the pen, but he isn’t untouchable. The bullpen is the absolute easiest part of the team to replace, so Warren, Montgomery, etc. are available. The only untouchable would be David Robertson. But I still have a feeling that the Giants would want someone like Mason Williams in this deal.

        • Preston says:

          I disagree, I think the Giants are going to let him walk. He has been at odds with the team over his weight for years and they’ve already committed 60 million per year to Cain, Posey and Pence.

        • Havok9120 says:

          There are other candidates and the Yankees showed last season they were willing to stand pat if a reasonable deal didn’t present itself. So they certainly can afford to miss out on him. What’s more, I’ve seen no indication that the Giants like Sandoval enough that “there’s no way he hits the market.”

          Maybe some of the deals presented here have been a little overly optimistic, but I don’t think they’re nearly as far off as you seem to.

  7. Nate says:

    I’d do Warren + Nunez + bullpen prospect (Montgomery ) in a second.

    I’d also do Romine + prospect.

    • Preston says:

      You might be willing to trade Romine, but the Giants have no use for him. They have the best player in MLB at he position and a talented young BUC in Hector Sanchez.

      • Nate says:

        The article said that they are considering moving Posey off the position.

        • Preston says:

          I understand, but Hector Sanchez is a year younger and projects similarly, if not better, than Romine. And I doubt that the move of Posey would happen overnight, they’ll probably phase him out slowly.

  8. jjyank says:

    Before I finish reading the article, I’d just like to say this: Trading for Plouffe would be totally worth it to watch the reaction of a certain commenter.

  9. Darren says:

    Somehow I don’t see San Fran trading their beloved, every day switch hitting third baseman, World Series hero with sustained, above- average success at the field and the plate for a shaky, brittle, historicually bad fielding mess like Eduardo Nunez and a 6th starter. Call me a pessimist.

  10. Grover says:

    Sandoval’s power is from the left side as well and he would cost considerably less than Headley. The free agent options are pretty lousy. As I believe Cashman will sign several inning eating starters after Cano is settled, giving up Phelps, Warren, Nuno, Nunez and Almonte can be covered. I would be far less likely to include Romine before he gets more than eight at bats a week or we see some serious growth from Murphy. I’d throw them Cervelli if it made a difference. He has a better bat but is a lousy catcher and will never find favor from Girardi. Throw Nix in as well if the Giants want to pay him the $1.4M estimate in arbitration. If you solve third base we can live with last year’s catching core and hope for Romine to push Stewart for more time while scouring the leftover free agent catchers. Buck or Molina might have some value but very little for the extra million they might cost.

  11. Preston says:

    I don’t see this getting done without including a top prospect. Gary Sanchez would be a deal breaker to me. I also probably wouldn’t want to part with Mason Williams. He’s just to talented despite the lackluster results in 2013. I would probably be willing to part with one of Austin/Heathcott though, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to do Austin/Heathcott plus a pitcher Phelps/Warren/Marshall/Nuno. But that’s probably what it would take to get it done.

  12. Pee Wee Herman Ruth says:

    Why would we be so quick to trade away cost controlled/arbitration eligible depth players for a one-year rental who is injury prone?

    SF is interested in trading Panda…. then we trade Ichiro + a low-level prospect and they can save about $2 million.

    Otherwise, no thanks.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Because they’re not difficult to replace depth players. There’s already multiple players who could step in (perhaps not at short, but certainly around the infield) within the organization already.

      • Pee Wee Herman Ruth says:

        It may not be difficult to replace depth players…but if you don’t have those players in the highest levels of the system, then you will invariably be replacing those depth players on the FA market with more expensive veterans.

        It doesn’t seem like an efficient manner to build depth, especially in light of the organizations budgetary “goals”…

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          One of Warren/Nuno/Phelps could be expendable, with one of the others sliding into his spot. It’s very possible as well that Marshall/Ramirez/Banuelos can slide into their role and, in the case of the latter two, probably surpass it by the end of next season.

          CoJo/Adams could probably fake short even less than Nunez can, but could be reasonable replacements at the other positions. I’m not sure any of those three is the answer to any question for this team anyway.

          They’re pretty expendable depth.

    • Deathstroke Heathcott says:

      Could we get a compensation pick for Panda if he chooses to leave after a year?

      • Preston says:

        If we extend him a QO, yes. The only time you can’t give a QO is if you had them for less than one year, so mid-season acquisitions like Garza.

  13. Conor in China says:

    It’s not a guarantee that Sandoval really solves the third base problem. Last season was the first season he played more than 120 games since 2010. His defensive and offense have declined for two straight seasons. He’s also pretty inconsistent. Here are his RC+ for his six seasons.118, 146, 96, 149, 117, 115. Here is his fWAR: 1 (late call up), 5.2, 1.4, 5.5, 2.6, 2.3. He’s been all over the place, including below average. Given his inconsistency, injuries and weight, he seems particularly hard to predict.

    Given how much information SF has compared the Yankees, he’s not someone I would want to trade for. If the price is low, SF probably knows decline is likely because of injury/weight.

  14. mike says:

    Hard to think the Giants need salary relief and will weaken their infield and power for Phelps and Nunez, especially if they will get an additional 1st round pick next year when the contract is up.

    If they Yanks aren’t thinking Nova/Claborne/Nunez, don’t bother making the call….

    However, i would think a Gardner/Claborne package will do it, but that means the Yanks would need to sign Granderson ….byebye $189

  15. Baked McBride says:

    Panda would look much better in slimming pinstripes
    He must absolutely CRUSH post game buffets

  16. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    Guys, take a step back and think about this. Pablo is a good player, trending down, with weight issues that could be cause for injuries, and is probably a 1 year rental. S.F. wouldn’t entertain trade scenarios unless they had legitimate concerns. Without these concerns, they’d be more inclined to lock this guy up long term. Could it be lightning in a bottle for NY ? Sure, maybe. But before we advocate giving up numerous, cost controlled, young players with potential, let’s take a step back. Could he turn out to be Scott Brosius ? Maybe. Or he could come in at close to 300 pounds and spend major time on the DL, right before departing for free agency. And of course, at which time Oakland will sign him and he’ll be a “rotund” success.

    • Pee Wee Herman Ruth says:

      So that’s one step back…ah forget it you lost me….

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I look at him as a solid one-year commitment, which gives the team time to evaluate whether they’d want him for longer, allows for the team to enter a potentially better market for a 3B after 2014, and allows for one more year for the team to assess how close Jagelio is to the majors, whether Austin could actually move back to third, or how good an assistant minor league coach DBJ will make in a few years.

      The cost-controlled players being mentioned have potential but, in order to really move beyond being replacable pieces, would really need to exceed what people think their ceilings are.

      • Eselquetodolosabe says:

        Let’s look at WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Pablo comes in out of shape (or slightly above his “normal” weight), gets hurt and misses considerable time on DL.
        BEST CASE SCENARIO: comes in in-shape (FA walk year), and has a very good year. In which case he hits free agency, we make Q. O., and walk away with a pick.
        Since NY rarely negotiates contracts during season, “best case scenario” is very plausible. I wouldn’t include Warren for Pablo, but I’m probably in the minority.

        • Preston says:

          Even in the worst case scenario I think he’d still merit a QO and pick. There just aren’t that many 3b with his kind of talent out there.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Of those three pitchers, I’d say I’d be least likely to deal Warren as well. I’d be most likely to deal Nuno. Phelps gives me injury concern at this point. I like him less than I used to.

          So you’re saying worst case scenario is Fat Youk. :)

          • Eselquetodolosabe says:

            Phelps did not look like the same pitcher in second half of season. Fatigue ? Scouting ? While Warren looked sharp in second half. One of the few Yankee pitchers with a very good change-up. He just looks like a ML pitcher (4/5 starter at worse). Maybe Nuño and Nuñez. But even giving up Nuño scares me.

          • Preston says:

            I disagree, even with the injury risk I think Phelps is superior to Warren. He was better in the minors. Has more Ks with a similar walk and GB%. His 2012 was superior to Warren’s 2013. And while his era was ugly this year his FIP was better than Warren’s.

            • Eselquetodolosabe says:

              Thanks for the numbers, wasn’t aware of these. I was using the old eye test. I just saw something “click” with Warren near the end of the season.

  17. Laz says:

    5’11″ / 280
    Holy ****

    I’m same height, yet only 145…

  18. nyyplatoonsplits says:

    I love it anyone who can come here and play every day I’ll all for! As long as they are actual players and not bench, replacement, other teams has bins. Sign em all Choo, Beltran, Young, Palbo, Pence, Mccann and start moving the crap Tex, Granderson, Gardner down in the lineup! This team has nothing to trade nothing! So signing new guys might open a door for future trades so go for it! Instead of slapping some fresh paint over a crack wall which seems to be the new Yankee way.

    When your second best hitter on the team is Gardner YOU HAVE PROBLEMS! Sign away ~~~~~~~~

  19. Bo Knows says:

    he’s 27 and has issues managing his weight, what is going to happen when he reaches his early thirties? He’d be a good 1 year deal guy if the price is right, but I would not trust him to be useful past age 30, at that point he might have to be rolled out on a forklift.

    • MannyGeee says:

      I’m 33 and have a hard time managing my weight… what are you trying to say? That I couldn’t possibly play 3rd base for the Yankees?

      Alright then…

  20. AllyinCt says:

    I wouldn’t want to over pay for him, but I have liked him….plus he could make for a great Santa at the Christmas party.

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