While the San Francisco Giants will do everything in their power to bring back Pablo Sandoval for 2015, the Boston Red Sox are expected to make a serious run as well, according to Peter Gammons. Gammons goes on to say there is "swelling thinking" that Sandoval ends up signing with Boston, according to one San Francisco official.
Sandoval, currently having a strong postseason for the Giants, will hit the free agent market for the first time in his career this offseason. Before the 2012 season, the Giants signed Sandoval through 2014. They tried once again to extend him before this season, but the third baseman declined the offer. The most recent extension offer was made during spring training, and Sandoval rejected the three-year, $40 million deal. He is expected to land a contract similar to teammate Hunter Pence's five-year, $90 million contract.
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are coming off a season in which the the majority of their starts at third base came from Will Middlebrooks and his .522 OPS. Middlebrooks, a former highly regarded prospect, has yet to produce results anywhere near the level of his 2012 rookie season. Over 75 games in 2012, Middlebrooks put up a slash line of .288/.325/.509. His production was good for 1.9 Wins Above Replacement, despite only playing half the season. Since then, Middlebrooks has posted a -0.5 WAR over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. His strikeout rates have increased, while his power numbers continue to decline.
The Red Sox also used Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts at third, but Bogaerts is expected to play shortstop full time in 2015. Holt was more productive than Middlebrooks, putting up a .281/.331/.381 slash line, but while he clearly brought more to the table than Middlebrooks, Holt may be better served as a utility player for Boston. (For the 2014 season, Holt appeared at every position except catcher and pitcher.)
The rest of the Boston infield appears locked in with Bogaerts at shortstop, Dustin Pedroia at second and Mike Napoli at first base. The outfield has plenty of depth, even to the point where they are considering trading Yoenis Cespedes. The clear weakness of the ball club is third base, and Sandoval could change that in a hurry. The Giants third baseman has a career slash line of .294/.346/.465, along with an .815 OPS so far this postseason. His bat could easily be plugged into the middle of Boston's order and provide a spark.
The Red Sox are just one year removed from winning the World Series, but fans are quick to point out that they have missed the playoffs in four out of the last five seasons. The pressure is on for management to producer a winner in 2015, and the addition of Pablo Sandoval would be a huge step in the right direction.