Robinson Cano is aiming for one of the biggest contracts in baseball history as a free agent this winter, and it’s safe to say he’ll end up a very, very wealthy man. Still, two pieces of news today haven’t helped his cause at all.
Most will point to Dustin Pedroia’s seemingly under-market seven-year, $100 million extension with the Red Sox as a problem for Cano. Since Pedroia was already under control for 2014 and ’15, the new contract essentially amounts to a six-year extension worth $15 million per year, which is about half as much annually as Cano is going to be gunning for in a few months. Being that Pedroia is a $20 million-$25 million player right now, it seems like quite a bargain.
Personally, I don’t think Pedroia’s deal has any bearing on Cano’s situation. The two are comparable players, but their situations weren’t at all alike. The biggest factor here is that Pedroia was already under control for two more years; the Red Sox had little reason to pay him market value to get a deal done now. And regardless of whether a Pedroia extension could be worked out, the Red Sox weren’t going to be suitors for Cano this winter.
No, the potentially much bigger problem for Cano’s camp is that the Dodgers have reportedly signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a seven-year, $32 million contract, likely to play second base. The Dodgers are, right now, the richest team in baseball and they presented Cano with the most attractive alternative to the Yankees in free agency this winter. Of course, they still might; the Dodgers are so loaded that they could still sign Guerrero and make a huge bid for Cano later. After all, they didn’t let the $42 million Yasiel Puig signing prevent them from taking on Carl Crawford’s contract last year. But their desire for a second baseman will hinge on how Guerrero looks these next two months. Maybe he’ll be impressive enough defensively to warrant a move back to shortstop.
There’s certainly no reason to cry for Cano. Even if he can’t play the Dodgers off the Yankees, he’ll still get $25 million per year. But his hopes of a $200 million deal may hinge on another team stepping up, and typical big spenders like the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Tigers and Phillies could all sit this one out.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: