Kung Fu Panda has Big Papi’s stamp of approval.
Pablo Sandoval has been linked to the Red Sox all offseason, with some suggesting the free-agent third baseman eventually will choose between Boston and the San Francisco Giants. David Ortiz completely understands Boston’s interest.
“I think Pablo has to make up his own mind about that as a free agent. He’s been a Giant, they’ve won three World Series, and I’m sure he’s tied to them,” Ortiz said last week in Phoenix, according to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. “But if he wants to come to a place like Boston, he’d be welcome in our lineup.
“The one thing I would hope whenever you sign a guy is, don’t put too many high expectations on him. Just let him be who he is. If he’s never hit 30 home runs or driven in 100 runs, don’t expect him to do something he’s never done just because he’s received a big contract.”
Sandoval’s agent said earlier this offseason that his client is seeking a six-year contract in free agency. That likely would mean a nine-figure deal, which obviously carries some risk, even for a productive switch-hitter with a track record of postseason success.
Ortiz caught up with Sandoval during the World Series while working as an analyst. The Red Sox slugger insists the two didn’t discuss Sandoval’s then-impending free agency, though there probably was some brain-picking.
Ortiz first met Sandoval in 2008 during a minor league rehab assignment.
“I was told this Pablo kid was special, and I had heard some great things, and I had also heard some other things and I just had a long talk with him because I wanted to get a feel for him and make sure he worked hard to achieve everything he could,” Ortiz told Cafardo. “You know the rest.
“He’s got three rings in five years and his numbers in the postseason are incredible. He’s a very good third baseman and he would help anyone’s lineup.”
Sandoval is coming off a season in which he hit .279 with 16 homers, 73 RBIs and a .739 OPS. The Red Sox have a need at third base following back-to-back disappointing seasons from Will Middlebrooks, and Ortiz said he thinks Sandoval’s bat would play well at Fenway Park.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of signing Sandoval is his postseason success. The 28-year-old, who hit .366 (26-for-71) with an .888 OPS during the Giants’ 2014 playoff run, is a .344 hitter (53-for-154) with six homers, 20 RBIs and a .935 OPS in 39 career postseason games. He’s a .426 hitter (20-for-47) with three homers, eight RBIs and a 1.162 OPS in 12 career World Series games.
While Sandoval has had a good thing going in San Francisco, it’s clear Boston is hot for the Panda. Sandoval reportedly is expected to visit Boston this week.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images