SAN FRANCISCO — The prodigal Panda is reportedly coming back to the Giants.
Hours after the Red Sox placed Pablo Sandoval on unconditional release waivers, the third baseman reached an understanding with his former team on a minor league contract, according to multiple reports.
Sandoval is expected to report to Triple-A Sacramento in an attempt to work his way back to the team where he starred for six seasons and won a 2012 World Series MVP award.
Giants GM Bobby Evans said the reports were not accurate because Sandoval hadn’t yet cleared release waivers; claiming Sandoval on waivers would mean assuming the roughly $49.5 million left on his contract.
But while teams cannot make offers until Sandoval is a free agent, they are allowed to express interest. Sources close to Sandoval have been quoted as saying that he would “love” to return to the Giants.
And while it might seem counterintuitive to try to piece together a team that looks more suited to be broken apart, there’s a certain open-mindedness that could benefit the Giants when they consider the prospect of a nearly free 30-year-old player who has a history of success against right-handed pitching when healthy and motivated.
The Giants are also dangerously thin at Sacramento due to call-ups and injuries. Third baseman Christian Arroyo is out for two months with a fractured hand after getting hit by a pitch. If nothing else, Sandoval gives them some organizational depth, with the chance for a comeback tale in the vein of Ryan Vogelsong, Travis Ishikawa and Conor Gillaspie.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com was first to report that Sandoval would re-sign with the Giants.
It’s pretty rich, by the way, that the Giants are being cautious about this news breaking before they are allowed to make Sandoval an official offer and would be accused of tampering. Several Giants officials were livid after Sandoval signed with the Red Sox following the 2014 season, believing that David Ortiz and others had actively recruited him in the months before he hit the open market.