The Pablo Sandoval era has come to an end for the third time. And this time is almost surely the last time.
On Thursday, the San Francisco Giants waived Sandoval after a rough season. The news was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, and later confirmed by the team.
ROSTER MOVES:— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 10, 2020
• IF Pablo Sandoval placed on unconditional release waivers#SFGiants
The Giants reportedly made the move to make room for Justin Smoak, who was signed to a Minor League contract on Wednesday. Smoak fits the same profile as Sandoval — switch-hitting designated hitter who can play corner infield in a pinch and is having a bad year. They’ll hope it works out better with him.
Giants will activate Smoak. The move with Panda creates the room.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 10, 2020
Sandoval was a surprising signing in the offseason, given that the Giants were rebuilding with a new manager, and the veteran third baseman seemed destined for the American League since he had Tommy John surgery in September and couldn’t play in the field for a while.
But the lovable slugger got along well with Gabe Kapler, and was way ahead of rehab schedule, so the Giants brought him back on board. He was scheduled to start the season on the Injured List as he finished rehab, but the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing delayed season (as well as the universal DH) made it possible for the Panda to be on the Opening Day roster.
Unfortunately, Sandoval struggled big time, hitting just 18-82 with only 2 extra-base hits (1 double and 1 home run). Perhaps it was standard struggles and regression, or perhaps it was dealing with lingering effects from the elbow injury.
Or perhaps it was due to the difficult off-the-field hand Sandoval was dealt. He recently revealed that his entire family contracted the coronavirus, and that his wife had to visit the emergency room twice. The always friendly, always talkative Sandoval also stopped talking to the media, which he later admitted was due to a few media members focusing on his weight at the start of the season.
It’s not the happiest ending, but I think it’s safe to say that Giants fans will remember Sandoval for the good days, the good times, and the big smiles.
We thought his run with the Giants was over after 2014, and again after 2019. Now it feels safe to say that he’s worn a Giants jersey for the last time ... as a player, at least.
He finishes his Giants tenure with 1,149 regular season games, 39 postseason games, 135 regular season home runs, 6 postseason home runs, 2 All-Star appearances, 1 World Series MVP, and 3 rings.