There is no denying that Pablo Sandoval has had a roller-coaster career with the San Francisco Giants. We have have seen the highs of a healthy Sandoval, who can hit .330 with 25 home runs, and the lows of Kung Fu Panda, who was overweight last year and hit a mere .278. Inconsistencies aside, the Giants should lock up Sandoval on a long-term deal in the near future.
Sandoval now enters the final season of his three-year deal, and the main question still lingers.
Should the Giants sign Sandoval to a multi-year contract extension?
Sandoval has proved he can be one of the best hitters in the game. In 2009, Sandoval’s first full season with the Giants, he finished fifth in all of Major League Baseball with a .330 average. Just two years later, Sandoval hit .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI despite missing 41 games due to a broken wrist.
While Sandoval has shown flashes of brilliance, he has been unable to maintain it year to year.
After having so much success in 2009, Sandoval entered the 2010 season out of shape, hit just .268 and watched his team win the World Series from the bench.
Sandoval had his redemption year in 2011 but has struggled in the past two seasons to stay healthy.
Sandoval has taken the initiative to shed some weight and it has shown.
Here is the Instagram picture Sandoval posted three weeks ago.
Here is last year’s Sandoval just for good measure.
Obviously Sandoval understands that if he wants big money from the Giants, or any other team, he has to prove that he can keep his weight down throughout the course of a season.
If the Giants understand the future value of Sandoval, they would be smart to lock him up for the long term.
Sandoval was the 2012 World Series MVP while playing well overweight. Imagine what his ceiling could be when he’s healthy.
Sure, the Giants would be taking a slight risk in giving the inconsistent Sandoval big money, but what would happen if they let him walk?
The 2014-15 free agent class does not have much depth at the third base position as Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, Ty Wigginton and Sandoval highlight the group.
Headley had a breakout season for the Padres in 2012 and will draw interest from a lot of teams if he becomes a free agent.
Ramirez and Wigginton will both be 37 years old come 2015 and would not serve as a long-term solution for the Giants.
Sandoval will be just 28 in 2015, and he and Headley look to be the most appealing options for teams.
The last thing the Giants want is to lose Sandoval and not be able to find a viable replacement.
According to Andrew Baggarly of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, “[I]f the Giants don’t extend him this spring, and he gets to free agency, he’s probably in his last year as a Giant.”
The Giants have seen how Sandoval can perform when healthy, and this should encourage them to reach an extension.
In the past few years, the Giants have inked Matt Cain and Buster Posey to long-term deals in the season’s early going and should continue this trend with Sandoval.
Sandoval has become a fan favorite in San Francisco, where wearing panda hats has become the norm.
A panda hat-less AT&T Park would just be a travesty.
Should the Giants keep the Kung Fu Panda in San Francisco? Please comment below!