While the whole of Boston seems on the verge of panic over the rotation, so far the situation has remained relatively placid when it comes to the team's position players despite the presence of 2015's trio of expensive disappointments in Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Rusney Castillo. It's pretty tough to be upset, after all, when Holt and Shaw are effectively earning Sandoval and Castillo's paychecks for them while Ramirez acquits himself quite nicely at first base indeed.
In fact, with Castillo headed to Pawtucket and Sandoval hitting the disabled list, it honestly seemed like the Red Sox were past the awkward early stages, and could quietly push those issues to the backburner until more was required of them in terms of depth.
So much for that. Enter Jeff Passan's troubling article on the Sandoval situation. The highlights:
- Sandoval wants to play every day, and wants out if he can't
- The Red Sox want Sandoval to slim down first, and even then, won't be replacing the likes of Holt and Shaw to facilitate his place in the lineup.
- Passan calls Sandoval's shoulder pain "mysterious," which is a bit weak honestly, but then says the Red Sox were all-too-happy to take the excuse to toss him on the disabled list as soon as possible. He hasn't even had an MRI.
In a way, this shouldn't come as news, exactly. Of course Sandoval wants to play every day. And when it comes to a guy with Sandoval's history, it's also no surprise that he's not interested in sticking around if he doesn't get his way. The idea of Sandoval sticking around as a long-term bench player was never terribly feasible. And of course the Red Sox want Sandoval to slim down, since if nothing else is working...
Still, it's the first confirmation that things seem to be coming to a head, with Boston's treatment of Sandoval's injury making it clear that he's only being kept around for the small equity he might hold if they can find someone to take even a portion of his contract. Given a way to both keep that equity and get him out of the picture for a while, the Red Sox jumped, and didn't bother looking the gift horse in the mouth.
Where's Ned Colletti when you need him?
Even without the Dodgers to bail them out, the Red Sox can find someone to take Sandoval off of their hands for the right price. It's just that they're not likely to see even half of their money back. Or anything all that close to that, even. They're up against the wall with him, and shockingly demand for baseball's worst player of 2015 isn't all that high even with a history of success. Teams won't compete very hard for him, and so long as they don't, the Red Sox will more or less be left taking whatever the first buyer deigns to offer them.
For that likely small price, the Sox would be leaving themselves without much in the way of insurance against Holt and Shaw struggling. Yes, they're off to strong starts, but both are likely to regress some before all is said and done, particularly with Holt's second-half tendencies. The good news is that Shaw looks capable enough at third defensively that he could do a fair bit less at the plate and still be viable, while Castillo can still provide some backup against Holt falling off if he puts together a decent run in the minors. That situation, at least, doesn't seem quite so toxic.
But if losing Sandoval means losing depth, at this point it seems like the Red Sox might be willing to look past pure questions of potential on-field value in favor of removing the biggest holdover headache from the Ben Cherington era. And frankly, whether it's a strategic misstep or not, it's hard to blame them. The thought of being done with this story and all it entails is tempting indeed.