The San Francisco Giants made a lot of people scratch their heads with their decision to re-sign Pablo Sandoval on Wednesday. But the move actually makes a ton of sense.
The Giants legend experienced a bit of a career revival with the team last season slashing .268/.313/.507 in 108 games before undergoing Tommy John surgery back in early September.
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But that being said, everyone assumed that his 2019 season in San Francisco would be his last.
With the Giants looking to move on from their previous generations and rebuild the roster from scratch, Sandoval didn’t appear to have a place on the team.
If anything, it seemed as though he was brought back as an ode to manager Bruce Bochy who was coaching his final season in the MLB and whose close relationship with Sandoval had been well-documented.
And even despite his surprising 2019 success, with Bochy gone and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looking to get younger across the board, it didn’t seem like there was any chance that the “Panda” would be back in the Bay Area next season.
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened.
Again, on the surface, Sandoval looks like everything Zaidi isn’t looking for in a player. He’s an aging veteran who is coming off a major injury and doesn’t have much of a track record of recent success.
It’s easy to write off 2019 as a fluke year.
But in actuality, Pablo Sandoval is more of a Zaidi fit than it might first appear.
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Zaidi is looking for versatility among his role players and Sandoval fits the bill. The 33-year-old plays both the corner infield positions and can even play second base in a pinch. And we’ve already seen what he could do on the mound.
Seriously, let Pablo pitch.
On top of that, the Giants don’t exactly have a backup first baseman on the roster or a left-handed hitting third baseman. The switch-hitting Sandoval bats better from the left side and could give the Giants a true backup first baseman that’s not Buster Posey.
He’s a versatile, effective role player who fills needs on the team. Make no mistake about it, Sandoval is back because of his legacy in San Francisco and because of the fact that fans adore him once again after a brief falling out following his first tenure with the organization.
He’s there to put butts in seats, but also to contribute.
Reports are that Sandoval is ahead of schedule with his rehab and that he’s expected to make the team if healthy. And if he could play anything like the 2019 version of himself, he’s sure to be a positive contributor for the Giants this season.
The Panda is back and it’s more than just a publicity stunt.