The Boston Red Sox are in the middle of an intense playoff race, leading the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays by 3.5 games in the race for the American League East crown.
However, they have a hole at third base that has proven difficult to fill, as both Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin have started splitting time at the position while Boston waits for reinforcements to arrive.
One of those reinforcements was expected to be Pablo Sandoval, who has been on the disabled list since June 20 with an inner-ear infection. Now, though, it seems the team has different plans.
Boston has decided to designate the 2012 World Series MVP for assignment, which will effectively end his tenure with the team.
Sandoval, who was a huge part in the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series victory, is also a two-time All-Star. In his three seasons with the Red Sox, though, he’d appeared in only 161 games due to injuries and ineffectiveness, hitting only .237 with 14 home runs.
Before Sandoval was placed on the DL on June 20, Red Sox manager John Farrell told ESPN.com that both Sandoval and the Red Sox were in a tough spot when it came to playing time for the once-talented switch hitter:
“This is not an ideal situation. We all recognize that,” Farrell said. “We support Pablo in his return. For a guy that’s been a longtime everyday player, we recognize that it’s a tough situation. But at the same time, you try and make the most of your roster and take advantage of what you have currently to win today, and that’s the approach that we’ve taken.”
Now that the team has designated him for assignment, Sandoval will likely clear waivers, in which case he’ll almost certainly be granted their release.
Though Sandoval was an All-Star in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, his best year was 2009, when he was a second-year player for the Giants. That season, he hit .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI.
Following the 2014 season, Sandoval – affectionately nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda” by the San Francisco fans – signed with the Red Sox for five years and $95 million. He’s making $17.5 million this season and the Red Sox will be on the hook for $18.6 million in 2018 and 2019 before they can exercise a $5 million buyout ahead of the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, Boston will scour the trade market to see if it can find a third baseman to fill the void left by Sandoval’s departure and Brock Holt’s injury.