There is always a mystery team. Know that. They live in your neighborhoods. Your kids go to school with their kids. You think you know what's up, then BLAMMO, mystery team. Pablo Sandoval is probably going to sign with the Twins, just because. Don't trust anyone.
This post assumes that we live in a rational universe, though. There are teams who are not a good fit for Sandoval, and the Twins are a great example. They already have Trevor Plouffe, who's above-average, they should have Miguel Sano ready at some point, and they're not the type of team to dish out nine-figure deals. They are the anti-Sandoval team. The Giants should not be worried about the Twins. Good Twins. Goooooood Twins.
There are teams to be wary of, though. See you creepin', Red Sox. This is an attempt to separate the teams into three Panda-related categories: Certainly not interested, probably not interested, possibly interested, and uh-oh. Here, I made a table to help:
|Current 3B||Can he play other positions?||Is he good?||Hotshot prospect?||Can the team afford $100M+?|
|Angels||David Freese||Used to be!||Yes|
|Astros||Matt Dominguez||Not really||Colin Moran||No|
|Blue Jays||Brett Lawrie||Yes||No|
|Braves||Chris Johnson||Probably not||No|
|Cubs||Luis Valbuena||Meh||Kris Bryant||Yes|
|Diamondbacks||Jake Lamb||Not sure yet||Maybe?|
|Dodgers||Juan Uribe||2B, SS||Yes||Corey Seager, maybe||/wanking motion|
|Mariners||Kyle Seager||Very||D.J. Peterson||Yes|
|Marlins||Casey McGehee||Kinda?||No idea about that stupid team|
|Mets||David Wright||Used to be!||No|
|Phillies||Cody Asche||Not sure yet||Maikel Franco||Probably|
|Rangers||Adrian Beltre||Very||Joey Gallo||Yes|
|Red Sox||Will Middlebrooks||No||Garin Cecchini||Yes|
|Rockies||Nolan Arenado||Very||Ryan McMahon||Maybe?|
|Royals||Mike Moustakas||Not really||Hunter Dozier||No|
|Tigers||Nick Castellanos||Not yet||Yes|
|Twins||Trevor Plouffe||Yes||Miguel Sano||No|
|White Sox||Conor Gillaspie||We would have complained so loudly about this if there the even years didn't exist, but kind of||Yes|
And now the categories:
This assumes two things: One, that Sandoval doesn't want to DH or play first. Two, that there isn't some wacky trade involved, like the Indians trading Lonnie Chisenhall for a fancy young pitcher to make room for Sandoval. I'm okay with both those assumptions, which means that one of these teams will probably sign him. Stupid mystery team.
The Braves would love to, but they're kind of on the poor side now, and they have Chris Johnson already under contract. The Cardinals could, but that would mean displacing Kolten Wong, whom they like very much. The Phillies are weird enough to do it, but they are in the middle of a youthy movement or some such, and one thing they do have is a set of interesting 3B prospects.
The Angels like to spend, and David Freese was kind of a bust. I'm not sure how much they have left over after Albert Pujols -- literally making $24 million next year and getting a $1 million raise every year until 2021, when he'll be 41 -- and Josh Hamilton.
I've heard that the Marlins are going to be jerks in the offseason again, even if we can't comprehend a free agent going there on purpose. The Nationals could slide Anthony Rendon over to second and be a super team. Again. The Tigers might be enamored of Nick Castellanos, but never trust a rich team in the offseason after a player has a disappointing season.
They're rich. They have easily identifiable holes. All of them are gross. The Yankees say they're out, but I don't believe them.
The Dodgers could move Juan Uribe to second or short if Hanley Ramirez leaves. There are reports that they're looking to cut payroll a bit, considering their interesting don't-show-games-on-television gamble last year. The Red Sox we know about. And they're still the team that makes the most sense.
If the Pirates start Gerrit Cole and win the Wild Card Game 1-0 in the 10th inning, I don't think there's any way the Giants even pretend to hang with that trio. When the money got past the Hunter Pence figure, the Giants would have quietly shuffled off. As is, let's check in with Larry Baer.
There's a chance. The contract will be loathed and panned and a little comforting, but there's still a chance. There are three teams that freak me out and four more that I'm side-eyeing. I want Sandoval back, dang it. Listing the teams that might be interested didn't make me feel better.