UPDATE: Apparently Sandoval isn’t a done deal to play in the Venezuelan Winter League. At least not yet.
Via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Sandoval tweeted following Bochy’s comments this afternoon, calling them “rumors” while saying that he won’t make up his mind until early December. Odd, but there you go.
(Thanks to Giants Nirvana for the link)
8:20 PM: Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed this afternoon that Pablo Sandoval has been granted permission to play 10 games in the Venezuelan Winter League next month, reports Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. He’ll leave for his home country on December 10.
That he’ll participate is another good sign for the state of his strained left shoulder, which was an issue for him during the second half of the season. Sandoval took some swings in the cage from the right side of the plate during the recent “All-Star Series” in Taiwan and the Giants are confident he should be 100 percent by spring training.
The most pressing matter for Sandoval this offseason is, once again, his conditioning. While he appeared to gain most of the weight he lost last winter, he told Bochy in Taiwan that he hasn’t packed on any additional pounds since the end of the regular season and that he plans to report to spring training even lighter than he did last year.
“I respect and trust that Pablo will come in the same shape he did last year,” Bochy said.
Sandoval, 25, batted .315/.357/.552 with 23 home runs, 70 RBI and a .909 OPS over 466 plate appearances this season.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.