Pablo Sandoval has reportedly made his decision on what team he will be signing with. According to Jon Heyman, and denied by his agent, Sandoval has agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox, joining Hanley Ramirez in the American League East, and small confines of Fenway Park.
According to reports it was the Padres who offered Sandoval the biggest contract, beating out the deep pockets of the Giants and Red Sox. General Manager A.J. Preller is setting the Padres in a new direction. The team is in on everyone from Cuban sensation Yasmany Tomas to Cincinnati Reds’ star Jay Bruce. But, as exciting as this is, San Diego simply couldn’t convince the big man to stay out west.
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The Giants won the World Series last year with Kung Fu Panda as their main catalyst. The Red Sox were the 2013 World Champions and, despite finishing near the bottom of the American League East, one player of Sandoval’s caliber could’ve brought them to the next level. The Padres finished the 2014 campaign with 77 wins and 85 losses. They were far from one player away and even someone like Sandoval wouldn’t have made that big of a difference.
Sandoval is a winner and he likely wants to keep winning. There’s no guarantee that the Padres sign Tomas or strike a trade to acquire Jay Bruce. Sandoval would’ve had, for the most part, a weak supporting cast. Not something that usually attracts big time free agents with a post season pedigree.
San Diego is not the big market that San Francisco or Boston is. Going to Boston assures Sandoval big time exposure in a market even larger than San Francisco’s. San Diego can not offer that. They can’t offer prime time ESPN coverage every week or two like Boston can when they play the Yankees or another big team or the Giants can when they play the Dodgers or Cardinals.
Did the Padres offer the most money? Yes, they did. But they couldn’t offer him what other teams could. Sandoval took less money for bigger exposure and a bigger chance to win. The Padres just couldn’t close that gap.
The Padres are a few years away from being able to topple the Dodgers and Giants in the National League West. The American League East is basically a wide open division. Given the choice between playing in a half empty PETCO Park or a sold out, buzzing Fenway Park, the choice is obvious. Sandoval has made his decision soon and it was hard to imagine him in brown, gold, or blue.