Padres Among Top Suitors for Sandoval
Since free agency started, the race for Pablo Sandoval‘s services has been largely reported as a two-horse race between the Giants and Red Sox. That was until yesterday. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Padres are as far into the mix as the Sox and Giants. This probably comes as a surprise to everyone considering the Padres, a small market team who usually are unable to go after big name free agents, but with this pursuit of Sandoval and their full court press on Yasmany Tomas, this could be a sign that the new ownership is willing to open up their checkbooks to help lure free agents here.
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Sandoval has always performed when he’s come to Petco. In 53 games he’s hit .284/.355/.487 with 10 home runs, the most homers of any away park. The fact that he’s hit more home runs in Petco than he has in Coors Field and Chase Field in a similar amount games is intriguing to me. The ball carries much better in those stadiums yet he has more success in San Diego.
Despite his success in San Diego Sandoval is still an interesting choice though, especially since the Padres just traded away their third baseman for the past several years in Chase Headley, and Sandoval doesn’t present much of an upgrade over Headley. For their careers Sandoval has hit .294/.346/.465 while Headley has hit .265/.347/.409. Sandoval has the advantage in every category other than OBP where he’s behind by .001, but in terms of WAR Headley has topped Sandoval 4 of the last 5 seasons. You really can’t go wrong with either one, but Sandoval is going to command a much larger contract.
So why would the Padres ship away someone who they already had in-house to go after a more expensive marginally better player? I understand that A.J. Preller wasn’t around when the move was made to move Headley, but it still doesn’t mean that he can’t be brought back. It would be fun to lure away a big name free agent from a division rival, but at the cost of Sandoval it’s probably not worth it.