Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts on Pablo Sandoval and the Future of Third Base for the Giants Part II

In Part I of this series, we looked at the difficulty in placing a value on Pablo Sandoval without the input of the open market.  The less certain a player's value, the less likely that player and his team will agree on a long term contract.  There is a high probability that Pablo Sandoval will become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season.  As Brian Sabean said back in December, if Pablo does hit free agency, he will have "no shortage of suitors, regardless of his weight," or something to that effect.

Indeed, some of the biggest spending teams in MLB could use a third baseman including one to the south of San Francisco whose GM has a fetish for signing Giants players.  The Yankees may well be in the market for a 3B, the Red Sox could be while the Tigers could move Nick Castellanos back to the OF and put Pablo at 3B.  Yeah, Pablo is going to get paid.  It's just a question of whether whether he is going to get paid a lot or get paid a whole heckuva lot!  Pablo's agent already threw cold water on any idea that the Giants might be able to make a last minute below market deal like they did with Hunter Pence by saying that if an extension is not signed by the All-Star Break, Pablo will be a free agent.

Assuming Pablo does become a free agent and signs with another team, which is more likely than not if  he is a FA, what are the Giants options for filling the position in 2015 and beyond?  Let's take a look.  We will first look at the Giants 3B depth chart, then outside FA options, trade options and finally some "outside the box" options.

Giants 3B Depth Chart(for a complete 3B depth chart discussion you might want to look up my post from the fall of 2013):

MLB:  Joaquin Arias:  Arias is a superior fielder but kind of a scattershot hitter.  I could see him putting up 2 WAR on defense alone!  The Giants have historically played well when he subbed in when Pablo was injured.   Probably not the guy you want as your starting 3B for more than a few weeks.

AAA:  Chris Dominguez is an older prospect with tremendous power potential. He found some success last year in Fresno by dialing back on the power a bit and increasing his contact.  Still strikes out at a frightening rate and it is difficult to see him hitting much above the Mendoza Line at the MLB level.

AA:  Adam Duvall is a ferocious hitter who has struggled with his throws to first base.  I think this guy can hit at the MLB level. The only question is if he can field the position.

High A/AA:  Ricky Oropesa has been working at 3B in minor league camp and looks like he's slated to play 3B for Richmond this year.  He's still at least a year away from contending for a MLB roster spot and probably 2 years away.

Low Minors:  Mitch Delfino, Ryder Jones and Jonah Arenado show future promise, but all have a long way to go.  Last year's first round draft pick, Christian Arroyo could eventually move to 3B.

Outside FA Options(Here's a list of potential 2015 FA 3B:

Alberto Callaspo, Chase Headley, Hanley Ramirez.  In other words, nobody!  Yeah, there are other names on the list, but do you really want me to list Yuniesky Betancourt and Wilson Betemit?  Just one more reason why Pablo is going to get paid!

Trade Options:  If there was anybody available, there are plenty of teams who would have already acquired them.  Maybe a Connor Gillaspie comes free on the South Side of Chicago?

Outside the Box:

Buster Posey:  Bruce Bochy is on record as musing that Buster might eventually become a pretty good third baseman.  I don't see it as any more than musing, but the Giants do have much better options at Catcher behind Buster than they do at 3B behind Pablo.  It is an elegant solution to several thorny problems:  It gets Buster out from behind the plate where he has already absorbed a pretty bad beating.  It keeps Brandon Belt at 1B assuming that Belt continues to grow as a player and makes himself indispensable.  It opens up opportunities for 2 of the Giants better young position players in Hector Sanchez and Andrew Susac.  Heck, as long as we're on the topic, wasn't I reading recently that The Hector was taking some ground balls at 3B?  Susac seems athletic enough to move to any of several positions including 3B.  Of course, there is a big gap between musing about Buster playing 3B and him actually playing the position.

Brandon Crawford:  If Crawford continues to grow as a hitter, he might get to a point where his bat would not be a liability at 3B and he looks like he would make a heckuva defender there.

As Brian Sabean said, the conventional wisdom would be to re-sign Pablo.  As we have seen, there are barriers to that happening.  The alternatives are all very iffy, but interesting to contemplate.


  1. Nice work. Just trade him to the Red Sox when they need a 3B for the pennant drive and bring back Garin Ceccini. Something like that.

    1. That is not a bad idea at all! I like it! Will Middlebrooks?

      If the Giants fall out of the playoff race by the trade deadline and don't get Pablo extended by then, they should definitely be looking to trade him at the deadline.

  2. I would add that the A's solved their 3B problem by moving a catcher, Josh Donaldson, there.

    1. One of my favorite player pages to look up is Joe Torre. I'm still shocked every time I view the "back of his baseball card". Torre starting playing third about his age 29 season. Bench's stint at third was much later in his career.

      So you like a 3B who had an OBP over .440 between high-A and AA? Yeah that would work. If the Sox were unloading MIddlebrooks to get a 3B, it might indicate Middlebrooks shine is just about faded out.

      How about Matt Duffy as a 3B candidate? Ahh heck, if Sandoval is healthy and productive they'll pony up 5/100.

  3. I think Crawford looks like he a future third baseman. His lower body is getting thicker and he' blocking a pretty good young shortstop. The left side of the infield would be great defensively and he'd have enough pop to make it work. We could even do a little platoon with Posey to give him some rest from behind the plate and get him some time there.

  4. No brainer, Posey is the future 3B and I wouldn't mind if they traded Panda and put Posey there this year.