Although he’s impressed a lot of his critics by coming back in great shape, Pablo Sandoval knows he has a lot of work to do in order to win back the job as the starting third baseman for the Boston Red Sox. Not only has his work ethic in the offseason proven that he knows this, but he’s saying the right things.
“Everything, I have to prove everything,” he said during a press conference last Thursday. “Especially when you’re coming from an off year after the injuries and you come back and you have to prove a lot of things to the fans, to the team, to your teammates, to the sport. You have to prove a lot of things out there on the field.”
While everyone is cautiously optimistic right now, there are still some who are wondering what the Red Sox might do if Sandoval doesn’t live up to expectations.
One person on the lookout for a potential option to replace Sandoval is the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo who suggests the Red Sox might want to keep an eye on Todd Frazier.
Frazier is a player to keep an eye on if Pablo Sandoval doesn’t cut it and the Red Sox need a big bat in the middle of the order. Frazier is scheduled to earn $12.5 million this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year. By trade deadline time Frazier’s deal will be less than half of that, which could make him affordable to the Red Sox and other contending teams. Frazier hit 40 homers and knocked in 98 runs last season and has a nice swing for Fenway. The White Sox probably won’t deal him before the start of the season.
Now the Red Sox have certainly have a good working relationship with the White Sox as they worked out the Chris Sale trade, so there’s the possibility that something could get worked out. With that being said, I’m not sure it would actually be the best deal possible.
As Cafardo points out in the same article, the Red Sox have several different players already on the roster who could fill in at the hot corner if needed. Brock Holt, for instance, is competing with Sandoval for the third base gig down in Fort Meyers.
You also can’t ignore the minor league depth that the Red Sox have at third. Just a couple weeks ago, for instance, they signed Mike Olt to a minor league deal. While his numbers haven’t been great in the big leagues, he might be an option if he performs well in Portland and/or Pawtucket.
There’s also Rafael Devers, who Baseball America ranked as the number 18 prospect in all of baseball. While he’s likely to start the year in AA Portland, the Red Sox have made it clear that they have no issues with a player skipping AAA if he’s ready for the big leagues. Just look at what they did with Andrew Benintendi.
Of course, all of this could just be a game of speculation if Pablo Sandoval turns out to have a strong comeback season.