Giants focused on Sandoval as offseason begins

Now that the celebration of the Giants’ third World Series championship in five years is dying down, it’s time for general manager Brian Sabean and his staff to turn their attention toward making another postseason run.

For starters, that means deciding whether they will — or can — hang on to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Giants beat reporter Chris Haft has a great rundown of the situation after speaking to Sabean, manager Bruce Bochy and team president Larry Baer at San Francisco’s annual end-of-season news conference.

It’s telling that Haft writes the majority of the questions Thursday had to do with Sandoval and his future with the Giants. It’s an extremely important issue for the Giants this winter, one that will need to be dealt with before San Francisco can continue down its to-do list.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sandoval’s agent said the third baseman is looking for a six-year deal, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has reported Sandoval wants a nine-figure contract. So, you do the math and you figure the Panda is looking for six years and at least $17 million per year, if not more.

An important disclaimer: Players rarely wind up getting what they enter the offseason hoping for. Teams fill their holes, demand calms down and the prices tend to drop a bit with them. Most of the time, anyway.

But as this story notes, Sandoval is one of just five third basemen to produce at least two Wins Above Replacement in five of the past six seasons. For all the concerns about his weight and conditioning, he’s 28 years old and coming off a three-season run in which he hit .280/.335/.424 with an average of 14 homers and 72 RBIs per year. (We can probably consider Sandoval’s 2011 season — .315/.357/.552 with 23 homers — a very impressive outlier at this point.)

Yes, Sandoval will be in demand. Among the teams reportedly in need of a third baseman are the Red Sox (most often linked to Sandoval in various reports), White Sox, Marlins and Yankees (more likely to first pursue Chase Headley). He could also ease into a designated hitter role in the latter years of his deal with any American League team.

But keep in mind, as Haft’s story notes, the Giants don’t have an in-house alternative if Sandoval leaves San Francisco. And the Giants are also famously loyal to their players, particularly those who have led them to postseason success in each of their last three World Series runs.

Sandoval turned down a three-year, $40 million offer from the Giants this spring. Will they be able to work out something this offseason?

– Adam Berry

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