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Pablo Sandoval apologizes for the way he left San Francisco

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Though third baseman Pablo Sandoval won three World Series rings with the Giants in 2010, ’12’, and ’14, he still left San Francisco on a sour note. After the 2014 season, he signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox. He turned down a deal in the same neighborhood from the Giants.

Sandoval told Bleacher Report in March 2015 that it was “not hard at all” to leave the Giants, adding, “If you want me around, you make the effort to push and get me back.”

Sandoval said, “I knew early in spring training last year that I was going to leave. They didn’t respect my agent. Contract talks, everything. The way Brian Sabean talked to my agent.”

Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with anybody in San Francisco. Sandoval’s decision, though, worked out for the Giants as the Red Sox were on the hook for all of that money while he struggled. As a member of the Red Sox over parts of three seasons, he hit .237/.286/.360. He was a lightning rod for criticism, particularly concerning his weight, and the team made it a point to help him lose weight. The Red Sox released him last month and the Giants signed him shortly thereafter, assigning him to Triple-A Sacramento.

Sandoval didn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball at Triple-A, but with the Giants selling some parts at the deadline (including Eduardo Nunez), a roster spot opened up for him and he got the call back to the majors. He still hasn’t hit much, but he did slug a game-tying solo home run off of Max Scherzer in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 11-inning, 6-2 loss to the Nationals.

Today, Sandoval has a column up at The Players’ Tribune titled, “Back Where I Belong.” In it, he apologizes for the way he handled his exit from San Francisco. In it, he writes:

Before I continue, I want to take a moment to apologize to the Giants and to the fans. I know I already have, and I probably will again, but I don’t think I can apologize enough for the way I left — for some of the things I said. I said things I didn’t have to say. Things I don’t want to repeat. Things I didn’t mean. I was just so emotional when I left San Francisco, and I didn’t handle it the right way.

I made a mistake.

I’m very sorry.

The first thing that stands out to me is that this seems like a genuine apology. He doesn’t say, “I’m sorry that some people were offended” or “I’m sorry some people misinterpreted what I meant” like a lot of people have done in the past to avoid having to take actual ownership of poor behavior. Sandoval didn’t have to apologize, and he could’ve certainly done so in a way that saved him more face. It takes guts to put yourself out there like that.

Now for the cynicism. Sandoval’s major league career is on thin ice. He’s still not producing after two and a half years of not producing for the Red Sox. He has a .634 OPS on the season. To add to that, he’s an aging player with below-average defense who can realistically only play two positions, both of which typically require a solid bat. Sandoval’s on-field production isn’t likely to land him a job in the future, but everyone likes a redemption story, so one wonders if this is his angle to try to prolong his career. As Craig pointed out on Twitter, players have been using The Players’ Tribune as a “transparent PR vehicle.” It’s not wrong at all for Sandoval to try to rebuild his image, but knowing this adds context to what he said.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.

Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.

Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.