SAN DIEGO – Could Pablo Sandoval reunite with the Giants?
Well sure. He meets the qualifications to be honored with a plaque on their Wall of Fame. He’ll no doubt be invited and encouraged to take part in the reunions for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series champion teams.
The Giants like to “line up the action figures” as often as possible for their fans. So yes, I expect we will see a day in the near future when Sandoval and the Giants embrace in a warm and happy reunion.
Oh wait. That’s not the question you were wondering about, was it?
Will Sandoval, soon to be cut loose as a $50 million sunk cost by the Boston Red Sox, resume his playing career with the Giants?
I attempted to answer that question on Friday, and the short answer is no. But since then, a national report from Jon Heyman said Sandoval would “love” to come back to the Giants, and “word is that some Giants people have spoken behind the scenes about the possibility, and suggest it could be a consideration.”
Here is a theoretical behind-the-scenes conversation that would make the above statement technically accurate:
Official 1: “Hey, do we want a virtually free Pablo Sandoval?”
Official 2: “HAHAHAHAHHA.”
In other words, Sandoval will not be on the Giants roster in a week.
But if he really, truly does want to come back, then maybe he can. Here’s what the process might look like:
–Sandoval agrees to a minor league contract with no guarantees, no opt-out dates and no promises.
–Sandoval reports to the Giants’ minor league complex in Arizona, where it is currently 228 degrees in the shade, and that is only a slight exaggeration.
–Sandoval commits himself to a fitness and rehab routine, and once he is cleared to play, he joins a minor league roster of the Giants’ choosing and plays where and when he is told.
–Sandoval not only uses minor league at-bats to prove he still has skills that can work at the major league level, but he uses that time to prove his commitment to an organization that spent years encouraging him and showing patience in him and trying to nurture the best out of him only to get spurned by him as a free agent – and then get smack talked about them on his way out the door. (He took the final out ball from the 2014 World Series with him, too.)
–If Sandoval shows he has something left, and if the Giants have a current roster need where activating him makes sense, then he could be back with them as a big leaguer. But that’s a lot of ifs. And that’s going to take a lot of time.
It’s important to remember that the Giants give more second chances than any organization in baseball. They brought back Ryan Vogelsong and Travis Ishikawa and Conor Gillaspie and Kevin Frandsen for second and third tours. You probably didn’t notice, but they even recently re-signed former prospects Seth Rosin and Cody Hall during this season.
They don’t only bring back former favorites that everyone is pulling for, either. They have reunited with players even when it didn’t end well the first time around, or when there were some hard feelings that might have otherwise made things awkward.
It’s a long-established pattern that has become more pronounced since Bobby Evans became GM, because it’s not in his nature to hold grudges or be dismissive of players over past disagreements.
So yes, on some level, the Giants would not rule out re-signing a 30-year-old player who was a former World Series MVP and might retain some level of major league skills. But they also have a roster that needs to get younger and more athletic, not the other way around. When making baseball decisions, they will prioritize pragmatism over nostalgia. If they only want the Panda back to revel in the past glory, they’ll wait until the 10-year reunion in 2020.
Could Sandoval continue his career in a Giants uniform? Yes. But it would have to be under certain, stringent terms. And it would not begin with Sandoval anywhere near the active, major league roster. It would mean months of proving himself, in more ways than one. It would require dedication and desire and delayed gratification from a player who has not displayed those attributes except in small, concentrated bursts.
Would Sandoval “love” that idea? That’s a question only he can answer.
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