One of the most noteworthy decisions at the end of the Grapefruit League came from the management of the Red Sox. Boston announced that Travis Shaw, not veteran Pablo Sandoval, would be the team’s starting third baseman.
That move makes Sandoval a bench player, since the Red Sox have slugger All-Star David Ortiz at designated hitter. The only other position Sandoval could handle would be first base, where Boston currently has veteran Hanley Ramirez.
The Red Sox will likely try to trade Sandoval, but his huge contract is certainly a deterrent. He is signed for four more seasons for about $18 million a year, so Boston would have to eat much of that salary in order to move him.
How much of that contract the Red Sox end up paying depends upon which team becomes their trade partner. There are currently two contending teams that could put Sandoval in their everyday lineup, but as a first baseman or designated hitter rather than at third.
A likely destination for him would be Houston, where top prospect A. J. Reed was sent to the minors at the end of the spring training. He is considered the first baseman of the near future, and he is a big reason the Astros sent Chris Carter to the Milwaukee Brewers after Houston’s postseason ended in the American League Championship Series last October.
Currently, the Astros have 25 year old Tyler White at the top of the depth chart at first base after he enjoyed a torrid month in the Cactus League. Manager A. J. Hinch has said that defense will be an important part of the decision on who plays first, so Sandoval might be a good fit. A move across the diamond should not affect Sandoval since it was his range, not his glove work, that hurt his defense at third.
The White Sox could use a replacement bat for Adam LaRoche, as well as a little bit of fun in the clubhouse. Kung Fu Panda could provide both, while allowing current DH Melky Cabrera to move back to left field. Adam Eaton could then be moved back to center, and Austin Jackson would return to his more suited role as a fourth outfielder.