After a day of confusing denials and conflicting reports, we finally have an answer. Free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval has agreed to sign with the Red Sox, according to his agent, Gustavo Vasquez. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported this morning, the deal is worth $98 million over five years and includes a club option for 2020.
The signing of Sandoval is the second major addition of the day for the Red Sox, who also agreed to a four-year, $88 million deal with Hanley Ramirez. Sandoval will immediately become the team's starting third baseman while the positional idea for Ramirez is not yet known, making trades inevitable for the new-look Sox. Among players on the current roster, the most likely trade candidates include Yoenis Cespedes, Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini and Deven Marrero, with other names like Mookie Betts, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino likely to be thrown around in trade rumors as well.
For the Red Sox, Sandoval represents a significant upgrade over the production that they received at third base last season. The 28-year old hit .279/.324/.415 with sixteen home runs and 73 RBI last year, and has a lifetime .294/.346/.465 line in seven major league seasons with the Giants. Pablo chose the Red Sox over the Giants and Padres, likely due to the fact that he could move to designated hitter once David Ortiz retires at some point during Sandoval's tenure in Boston.
With Sandoval and Ramirez off the market, teams looking for offense may have to turn to players like Melky Cabrera, Chase Headley and Nelson Cruz, who are still available as free agents. The Red Sox appear to be just getting started in their offseason overhaul, moving back to their post-2011 strategy when they spent big money on both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.