Giants on re-signing Sandoval: ‘We’ll do the best we can’

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KANSAS CITY – Once again, Pablo Sandoval proved that he is a big money player in October. Now the bill comes due.

After a record-setting postseason in which he collected 26 hits, including three in Wednesday night’s 3-2, World Series clinching Game 7 victory at Kauffman Stadium, and then splashed flat on his back in the grass in blissful repose after catching the final out in foul territory, Sandoval will become a free agent.

The Giants want him back. They know that desire guarantees nothing, though.

“Look, we’ll do the best we can,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said. “And up till now, the best we can has been to secure our guys.”

[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants win third World Series in five years]

The Giants were due to land back in San Francisco after 4 a.m. Thursday. GM Brian Sabean will meet with ownership and members of his baseball staff that afternoon. There’s no luxury to rest when you win Game 7 of the World Series. The offseason begins before you pop the first cork.

“Pablo’s at the top of that list. We all know it,” Sabean said. “Every negotiation is different. Every intention on the part of the player is different. I know we love Pablo and he loves the Giants and we’ll see what happens.”

For all the consternation regarding his conditioning, Sandoval made himself into a Gold Glove finalist at third base this season and he continued to come up big when it mattered most. He has a .344 batting average in the postseason and hit .366 this October with six doubles, five RBIs and 12 runs scored in 17 games. His 26 hits this month established a major league record for one postseason, passing up the previous record of 25 held by Marquis Grissom and Darin Erstad.

In 12 career World Series games, Sandoval is batting .426 with four doubles, three home runs, eight RBIs and nine runs scored. He didn’t crush three home runs this time, like he did in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series on the way to MVP honors, but he reached safely in all four plate appearances Wednesday – including three times when leading off an inning — and scored two of the Giants’ three runs.

“I just love being under pressure and trying to doing my job,” said Sandoval whose final out pose will be replayed for years and years. “I just try to do the best I can. I do love (San Francisco). I love my teammates and the fans. They deserve this. This opportunity the Giants organization gave to me to be here, to learn the game, it’s so exciting.”

Asked about his free agency, he said, “I’m just going to celebrate.”

The buzz will wear off soon enough. The Giants offered Sandoval a three-year, $40 million contract in the spring that was rejected by his camp, who hoped to start negotiations nearer to the five-year, $90 million deal that Hunter Pence received after last season. It’s clear the Giants will increase their offer now. It’s less clear how far Sandoval’s expectations will go up.

The Boston Red Sox, especially, are keen on improving at third base and have money to spend. They also have a DH spot that they could use at some point in the future, allowing them to guarantee more years to Sandoval than an NL club might be comfortable offering.

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But there is a downside to signing with the Red Sox, particularly for players who don’t get off to a good start. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford know something about that. Sandoval is beloved in San Francisco, which club officials hope will count for something.

“Pablo’s an amazing baseball player,” Baer said. “He’s a sweet guy. He plays the game like a kid but he’s a man’s man. We all know he’s got a lot of talent and we all know you go through highs and lows with a player. In the end, he’s a heck of a baseball player and he fits in this crazy quilt framework of ours really well. Having said that, you can’t predict free agency, and other teams, and agents and everything. So we’ll see.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy made it clear what his preference would be.

“Great players, they have a way of rising to the occasion. He did that,” Bochy said. “You could see a difference in Pablo once the postseason started. His focus, his third base play was as good as I’ve seen from any third baseman. That’s what I’m proud of about him, is how he made himself such a good defender.

“As for what happens, I don’t know. It’s obvious I love this kid, too. I’ve had him since he came up, and hopefully something gets done, but these are things that take care of themselves in the winter.”

Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo also are expected to file for free agency; the Giants have had preliminary discussions with Peavy about coming back, but have not discussed parameters of a deal.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Barred from playing in their own ballpark this year because of COVID-19, the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays have found a home in the playoffs.

The slumping New York Yankees, meanwhile, look likely to play on the road in the postseason, where they’ve struggled all year.

Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games following a 10-game winning stretch and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

“We’ve got to get it rolling again, obviously, if we’re going to get to where we want to go,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’m confident we can do it.

New York went 21-7 at home this season but was 11-18 on the road. Boone said he’s not concerned about that split even as a potential road playoff series looms next week.

“We’ve got to get ourselves in order and start playing really good baseball if we’re going to give ourselves a chance,” Boone said.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason. The Blue Jays had endured three losing campaigns since their previous playoff trip, going 67-95 last season.

“I’m just so proud of my club and everything we’ve gone through all year,” second-year manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Canada’s federal government refused to allow games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre this season, citing the closed Canada-U.S. border and the travel risk associated with the pandemic. Stuck on the road to start the season, the Blue Jays eventually ended up at their Triple-A ballpark, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, but didn’t gripe about their fate.

“They never complained,” Montoyo said. “They had their mind set on getting to this moment right now.”

Blue Jays players embraced after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it, donning blue T-shirts that said “Respect Toronto.”

“This is something we want to make an every year thing,” infielder Cavan Biggio said. “For us, we’re happy, we’re excited we’re able to put ourselves in this position, but this is only the start of hopefully something special for a long time.”

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo this weekend while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

“I’m concerned with the way we’ve played recently,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Any time you’re not playing your best baseball and the postseason is right around the corner, something needs to be corrected rather quickly.”

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

“It’s good to see him get a really good swing off in a big spot,” Boone said of Sanchez. “Just unfortunately, that short.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto, his eighth.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out, and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

“He’s an ace and he did what an ace does,” Montoyo said.

The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Aaron Judge came on as a pinch-hitter but is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, Boone said.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

SEVEN UP

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh. It had been an MLB-record 88 games since RHP Jacob Waguespack pitched into the seventh at Dodger Stadium last year.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.