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Pablo Sandoval free agency preview

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The two-time All-Star will test his value in the open market this offseason.

Mike Zarrilli

The bad news for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval is he's not been the player who put up a .300-plus batting average and a 5.0-plus fWAR (which he did in both 2009 and 2011). The good news is that he is still an above-average third baseman, both hitting and fielding-wise: he holds a 5.0 fWAR combined for 2012 and 2013 and 3.5 so far in 2014. And adding to that, Sandoval is one of the biggest names on the infield market for the upcoming free agent period.

Where he's been:

Sandoval's best offensive season was 2009, when he hit .330/.387/.556 in 633 plate appearances. A portly figure at 5'11'' and 245 pounds, he has had setbacks in performance due to recurring weight gain throughout his career. Whichever team is willing to offer him a long-term contract would also bet on him staying in shape long-term.

Despite those ups-and-downs, his Giants career is highlighted by two World Series titles. Sandoval was awarded the 2012 World Series MVP after hitting .500/.529/1.125 in 4 games, including this unforgettable performance.

Where he is now:

From 2012 to 2014, Sandoval has been quite consistent in offensive production. He put up a 118 wRC+ in 2012, 117 in 2013, and 118 this season. Gone may be the days of him putting up 140-plus wRC+, but he is still capable of putting up above-average offensive numbers for at least the next few years, seeing that he just turned 28 last month.

Per MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo, the Giants are not discussing an extension with the third baseman. Back in April, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that Sandoval was looking for at least a five-year, $100 million deal. Given that he has performed to an expected level and has played more than 100 games per season during his major league career, that $100 million figure is not likely to be reduced.

Sandoval's track record and the small pool of intriguing free agent infielders (or hitting talent in general) this offseason say that Sandoval will be one of the most interesting free agents to watch this offseason.

Where he's going:

Where could Sandoval go? The obvious answer would be to a team with a third base need. Sandoval has played a little first base in his major league career but has not since 2012, when he played a measly three games there. Among the big-market teams that could use third-base help are the Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, and Yankees.

Would there be a team willing to give out a nine-figure deal to a free agent with a history of health, consistency, and weight problems? Sandoval will get paid thanks to his skills, but it remains to be seen if he will get how much he wants.