BOSTON — Don’t you think that Pablo Sandoval is ready to move on at this point too? Unless the Red Sox put him back on the active major league roster, most of the power is his. And he might be thinking the same way we assume the Red Sox are: time to disappear.
Sox manager John Farrell talked before the All-Star break about the infusion of energy Tzu-Wei Lin has brought. If the skipper and Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski want to keep the present chemistry and roster, they’re not going to activate Sandoval at the end of his 20-day rehab period, which runs through Sunday.
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The team’s recourse, then, is one of four things: try to keep him on the disabled list, try to get him to agree to go to Triple-A as a healthy player; straight up release him, or pull off a trade. (A trade is technically always possible, but the result would be virtually the same as releasing him: taking on the vast remainder of his salary.)
Let’s assume the Sox decide there’s no reason to just let Sandoval go when they can keep him on the DL and with the slimmest hope he contributes next year.
The problem is that the Sox can’t just snap their fingers and keep him on the DL. Not if Sandoval doesn’t want to be on it anymore. And even if he were cool with it, MLB might not be.
From a recent version of the major league rules:
“If the player sustains a new injury or a reoccurrence of an injury while on a rehabilitation assignment, separate written consent from the player and approval from the Commissioner’s Office is required for a subsequent rehabilitation assignment. The Office of the Commissioner will carefully scrutinize any claim by a Club that a new rehabilitation assignment period is warranted if the player has not been returned from the original rehabilitation assignment for at least five days for a position player and seven days for a pitcher.”
Hours before the All-Star Game, commissioner Rob Manfred noted concern that teams were using the 10-day disabled list too liberally, so the league is watching.
Again, though: even if MLB found another DL stint for Sandoval permissible, why would Sandoval want to keep on with the Sox?
He must see the writing on the wall.
Not one, but two hot-corner prospects are coming up behind him in Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers. Devers should have already been promoted to be at Triple-A Pawtucket, where Sandoval resides on his rehab assignment — and where Sandoval would reside if he accepted a minor league assignment.
At this point, the Sox are simply dawdling. Perhaps they’re seeing if they can get some sort of prospect back in a trade. But it wouldn’t be much.
Sandoval’s hitting .250 on his current rehab assignment (13-for-52), with one home run, 12 strikeouts and 3 RBIs. It’s hard to believe his defense could be markedly improved.
The Sox can’t send Sandoval to Triple-A as an active player without his permission either, because he has five years of service time.
Even if all that awaits Sandoval as a free agent is a minor league deal with another team, it makes more sense to go to another organization where some opportunity might exist than to stay. He's getting his money no matter what.