After news broke that the Giants had had internal conversations in regards to bringing back Pablo Sandoval, we posed the question on our Twitter account: Yay or nay? Simple enough. Some were open to the idea, but only if the cost of acquisition was right, while others were wholeheartedly against it.
I'm with the fans on this one. While bringing back a one-time fan favorite brings back warm fuzzies, Sandoval isn't going to be the same player that he was in his first go-around with the Giants. He missed nearly all of 2016 after reporting to camp well overweight, and in 2015 he had career lows in batting average (.245), on-base percentage (.292), home runs (10), slugging (.366) and likely would have set a new career high in strikeouts if he had received enough playing time.
In short, his contract is an albatross for the Red Sox, and while he could be useful to Boston, seeing as how they just had their Hall of Fame caliber DH retire and aren't rock solid at either corner infield position, Sandoval doesn't figure to be a huge part of what the Sox do moving forward.
If the Giants were to bring the Panda back, Boston would have to eat a large sum of the amount due to him, which equates to 54.8M over the next three years and a $5M buyout for 2020. For about half that much, the trade could make some sense, making Pablo a roughly $9M per year player/gamble. For the Red Sox to eat that much, the Giants would then have to give up some value in return.
Then there is the question of where the trio of Eduardo Nunez, Joe Panik and Christian Arroyo all fit in moving forward. Sandoval would likely unseat Nunez at third, leaving him without a position, unless the team decides to try him in left field. With Nunez still on board and Arroyo a year closer to making his debut, this could make either Panik or Arroyo expendable in a trade down the road. It would certainly open up some doors for the club on the trade market, giving them a proven Major League second baseman that they could move, or their top talent in the minor leagues.
This would be all fine and dandy if Sandoval was a slam dunk and the Red Sox were willing to eat half of his salary, but since that isn't the case the Giants should back away slowly.
If they would like to upgrade third base, there are a number (one is a number) of free agent options that could be had for roughly $8-10M per year, and their deals would theoretically be of the one to two year variety. As I have mentioned before, Luis Valbuena could be an option to consider. According to Sportrac, his market value is roughly $8.625M per year, which is lower than it would cost to bring aboard Sandoval, both financially and in terms of prospects. Other than Justin Turner (whom the Giants don't need to spend big on), Valbuena is the only other option on the free agent market that would be an upgrade over Eduardo Nunez, although the Giants could consider someone like Will Middlebrooks on a minor league deal.
The Giants have a decent option at third at the moment, and some nice insurance policies in the minor leagues just in case Nunez starts to taper off. There is no need to try to bring home a former AT&T favorite unless the plan revolves around trading either Panik or Arroyo in the near future. It could take one of those players to land J.D. Martinez from the Tigers, but for a one year addition that deal wouldn't make enough sense for San Francisco. Focusing on the bullpen and upgrading left field are the priority this winter. If the Giants address both areas, then they should be able to hang with the Cubs and the rest of the National League.