The Red Sox are not alone in their pursuit of Pablo Sandoval, and will have to outbid at least the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Sandoval's original team in San Francisco if they want to secure his services for 2015 and beyond.
This is just the start to Sandoval's market, but it's a nice foundation for the high-profile third baseman, whose representatives will meet with the Red Sox in addition to the three aforementioned teams during this week's GM meetings in Phoenix according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo.
That leaves the Red Sox as the biggest fish in this particular pond for the time being. While all four teams can spend big at times, the Giants are the only other team to even approach a $150 million payroll, coming in just shy of that in 2014 while the Red Sox have shot as high as $175 million in 2012. They have been averse to long-term contracts since the disaster of 2011, but might see the 28-year-old Sandoval as a reasonable place to break that trend. That's a lot more realistic if Sandoval comes in below the six years he's currently said to be seeking, however.
It's very early in the free agency process, and Sandoval certainly has no reason to rush this process to its conclusion while teams like the Yankees are playing dead. Little enough tends to happen at the meetings in question, with the more important Winter Meetings in San Diego a month away. Still, this week should at least get the ball rolling, and give the Red Sox an idea of where they stand in the race for Sandoval, should they be interested in participating.