A little more than one season into the five-year, $95 million deal the Boston Red Sox gave Pablo Sandoval, it appears on the surface to be one of the all-time worst contracts. And it just got worse thanks to a report that the Red Sox never insured it.
On Monday it was announced that Sandoval would require season-ending shoulder surgery. The 29-year old third baseman has had a tough time since joining the Red Sox. By FanGraphs WAR, Sandoval actually cost his team two wins last season. He had his worst season at the plate and hit 25 percent below league average in his 505 plate appearances according to wRC+.
The 2016 season has been even less kind to Sandoval as he lost his job to Travis Shaw during spring training. Shaw, who was primarily a first baseman, has converted very gracefully and has been one of the best hitters on the team so far this season, slashing .322/.390/.533.
Source: Sandoval's contract with #RedSox is not insured.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 3, 2016
According to the report, the Red Sox will therefore be unable to recoup any of the roughly $77.4 million still owed to Sandoval. That figure includes the $5 million buyout of the $17 million team option in 2020 -- Sandoval's age-34 season.
In hindsight, this seems like a pretty large oversight for Dave Dombrowski, Mike Hazen and the rest of the Red Sox front office. Of course, predicting an entire season would be lost due to injury is difficult. But insuring a commitment this large seems like it would be a priority, even for the high-revenue Red Sox.
If Sandoval makes a full recovery going into next season, the Red Sox will have only lost $17.6 million in production. While that is a lot, it could absolutely get worse if Sandoval's shoulder continues to ail him in the future. Shoulders can be difficult to rehabilitate, especially for a player signed for his ability to slug.
Whether this impacts the Red Sox future ability to spend is the next question. The Red Sox can't possibly like having $17.6 million committed to a player that won't contribute toward the major league roster this season. If Sandoval's troubles continue and he is unable to rebound for whatever reason, then the front office could show some hesitance to spend on free agents in seasons to follow.