Pablo Sandoval's offseason took a dramatic turn with the announcement Saturday that he needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
The 32-year-old Giants infielder is scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
A healthy Sandoval might have been coveted by all 30 major league teams. He can play first and third base. He can come through with a much-needed pinch-hit. And he even can pitch an occasional inning.
But now, Sandoval won't be able to throw a baseball for most of the 2020 season, meaning he can't play the field or pitch, if need be.
Sandoval could follow in the footsteps of Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani by having the reconstructive elbow surgery and then only hitting next season. But that would require Sandoval to return to the American League, where he could serve as a full-time designated hitter.
That limits Sandoval to 15 potential teams. And of those 15 teams, you can rule out the Boston Red Sox — for obvious reasons.
The A's have Khris Davis, so they don't have a need. The Astros have rookie phenom Yordan Alvarez and All-Star Michael Brantley. If the Rangers don't bring back Hunter Pence, they'll likely use Shin-Soo Choo as the regular DH. Ohtani probably will be able to play the outfield again in 2020, but Albert Pujols has two years left on his contract and can move back to the Angels' DH.
The Twins hold a $12 million team option on Nelson Cruz, and you can expect them to bring him back with his huge power numbers. Cleveland has a revolving door of Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes. The Orioles, Tigers and Royals are at the beginning of serious rebuilds, so Sandoval probably has no interest in those teams.
The Yankees could be an option if they don't bring back Edwin Encarnacion. But they have Luke Voit, so they might be a long shot. The Rays just acquired Jesus Aguilar from the Brewers at the July 31 MLB trade deadline, so they are set at DH.
The two teams that could have DH openings are the Blue Jays and the White Sox, though Toronto has Sacramento native Rowdy Tellez, who could slide into that role.
Chicago will lose Jose Abreu in free agency, and holds a $9 million team option on Yonder Alonso. Signing Sandoval likely would be a cheaper option than picking up Alonso's deal.
As Sandoval heads into a winter of uncertainty, he'd prefer not to go to any of those AL teams.
“I want to come back,” Sandoval told reporters. “I want to be here the rest of my career. It’s not my decision.”