The Red Sox have benched Pablo Sandoval in favor of Travis Shaw to open the 2016 season. This comes on the heels of the Padres scouting Sandoval during minor-league spring training games earlier in the week, and now, there might be further development in the Sandoval story. The Padres are talking about Sandoval "internally," according to Jon Heyman, and while the level of interest is "unknown," they are talking about him.
There are complications, of course. Even if the Red Sox don't plan on starting Sandoval, Shaw is unproven, so dealing away their insurance at the hot corner for nothing makes little sense. He's also owed $75 million still, so if the Sox plan on getting something back for Sandoval, they'll have to eat a significant percentage of that money. And, as discussed on Thursday, the Red Sox might have need for Sandoval in the future even if he's not going to be able to handle defensive duties anymore.
The problems with benching Pablo Sandoval
For many, Pablo Sandoval's benching is a reason to rejoice. But the bigger picture implications might not be so universally positive for the Red Sox down the line.
The Padres have a third baseman already -- Yangervis Solarte is one of the team's better hitters -- but he also isn't much to look at defensively. Sandoval wasn't in 2015 nor this spring, but the Padres aren't under the same pressure to win now that the Sox are: San Diego could stick with Sandoval as he works through whatever is going on, and without having certain segments of the Boston beat breathing down his neck the whole time, too.
What the Sox would be able to get back is going to be the point of contention in any deal. The Padres can make Sandoval fit onto their roster -- Solarte was a utility guy before, and if Cory Spangenberg doesn't work at second, he could move there, or he could shift to the outfield when Jon Jay is either traded or fails. Melvin Upton Jr.'s defense would allow for them to put Solarte in left and Jay on the bench, if they want to give Spangenberg additional chances or if he makes the most of this first one.
So, that part is solved, one way or the other. But what the Sox get back and how big the check they write for the Padres will likely hold up any deal. Maybe not forever, but even if the Padres were talking right now about how much they want Sandoval, it'd still keep things from happening in a timely fashion.