The Giants haven’t given their fans much to cheer about this offseason, but they’re bringing one of their more popular players back for Gabe Kapler’s first season.
Pablo Sandoval confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez that he is returning to the Giants for the 2020 season.
“I am happy and thankful to the Giants for the opportunity to come back. I am ahead of schedule in my re-hab and can’t wait to get to Arizona.” ~ Pablo Sandoval on returning to the @sfgiants for the 2020 season. #sfgiants pic.twitter.com/EUR4L2aIKS— Amy Gutierrez (@AmyGGiants) January 30, 2020
Sandoval is returning on a minor league deal that will pay him $2 million with another $750,000 in incentives, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Sandoval is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery but is said to be well ahead of schedule, as he noted in his message to Amy G.
Pablo Sandoval back to #SFGiants. 2M minors deal. Plus 750 incentives. Expected to make team assuming OK (had TJ surgery)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 29, 2020
Sandoval had Tommy John surgery the first week of September to repair the UCL in his right elbow and remove loose bodies from the back of his elbow. At the time, the expectation was that Sandoval would miss most of the 2020 season and might need to find an American League club that would let him be a DH while his elbow continued to recover.
The Giants kept in touch, however, and Kapler met with Sandoval earlier this offseason in Miami. The two hit it off, and the Giants became intrigued by a comeback, knowing that Sandoval fills a need and also should be back far sooner than originally anticipated.
Sandoval had a .820 OPS for the Giants last season and hit 14 homers. The organization has had a quiet offseason and never did find anyone to replace the left-handed thump Sandoval provided behind Evan Longoria at third. He also can play first base, and the Giants don't have any depth there, either.
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Sandoval has had one of the strangest careers in Giants history. He left for Boston and burned bridges after the 2014 title but returned in 2017 and soon became a clubhouse leader. Sandoval was one of Bruce Bochy's favorite players and consistently brought the energy that Kapler wants to see throughout the clubhouse in his first season.
The signing caps a big offseason for Sandoval, who was a free agent for the second time. He got married right before the Winter Meetings, and Giants officials took note of how many current players -- including Mike Yastrzemski -- flew to Miami to attend the ceremony.