SAN FRANCISCO — A day after Pablo Sandoval was designated for assignment, Bruce Bochy was asked about his former third baseman. He said he thinks “the world of Pablo.”
“He’ll be fine,” Bochy added. “He’s got enough to live on.”
Bochy gave no indication he was ready for a reunion. Behind closed doors, many added that they didn’t want one, period. For two days over the weekend, I chatted with players and team employees about the possibility of Sandoval returning. I didn’t find one who was eager for the move.
Someone, and someone important, apparently did.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Sandoval and the Giants will agree to a minor league deal. Giants officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon because Sandoval still has not cleared waivers. Sanchez and Heyman are as good as it gets, however, so we must ask the next question: “Why?”
Why do the Giants, in last place, possibly headed for their worst season ever and a rebuild, feel it’s a good idea to bring back a player who hasn’t had a good season since leaving in 2014 and left a scorched earth trail on his way to Boston?
Perhaps the reason is Sam Dyson. Team officials are thrilled with the move they pulled, acquiring Dyson essentially for free after he was designated by the Rangers. Dyson is now their closer. Maybe the Giants feel Sandoval can be similar found money.
Perhaps the reason is the sellout streak. The Giants, for the first time in seven years, are looking at nights where the park isn’t filled. Sandoval burned bridges, but he still has some fans in the Bay Area and there have to be a few dozen boxes of panda hats in a closet at AT&T Park, right?
Perhaps there’s an old-fashioned baseball reason, although that’s a bit harder to find. Sandoval posted a negative WAR in all three seasons in Boston and he played just 161 total games, posting a .237 average and a .646 OPS. But maybe Giants scouts see something there that they can fix, giving them a switch-hitter off the bench and potentially another option at third.
The Giants — should the move become official — will give their rationale. At some point, someone may have to explain this move to the clubhouse, too. After leaving, Sandoval said he only missed Bochy and Hunter Pence.
“Do I remember that story?” one player said this week, “Of course I do."
Some players expressed a desire to give time to Ryder Jones and Jae-gyun Hwang, and to wait for Christian Arroyo to get healthy. Instead, the Panda is reportedly returning. Why? Maybe the question asked in the front office one was a different one: “Given the way this season has gone, why not?”