Pablo Sandoval’s steady decline continued on Thursday, as Red Sox manager John Farrell announced the 29-year-old third basemen will start the season on the bench.
In his place, the Red Sox are starting Travis Shaw, a 25-year-old rookie, who’s never played a regular season game and is making $500,000 this year.
Farrell said of the move, “For right now to start the season this is what’s best for our team.”
Sandoval had a disappointing first season with the Red Sox last year after signing a five-year, $95 million contract with the team. Set to earn $17 million this season, Sandoval had another lacklustre spring training, as he showed up with weight concerns, then batted only .245 with two home runs, six RBIs, and a .279 OBP. He also had four errors in 11 games.
Farrell added, “My focus is on the guys in the uniform, not the contract.”
While contract figures shouldn’t play a part in rotation spots, the Red Sox have to contemplate Sandoval’s spot on the roster. If Shaw, who had an impressive spring training, batting .333, is out-playing Sandoval, then Sandoval is little more than an expensive luxury. However, with Sandoval getting benched, his trade value would likely be low. Additionally, Sandoval is still young, and given his weight concerns, may still be able to play himself into shape.
For the second year in a row, the Sandoval era in Boston is off to a rough start.