In a way, it almost makes sense. A Panda playing for the Chicago Cubs.
It sounds far-fetched, but Bruce Levine of CBS Sports believes that both the Cubs and the crosstown rival White Sox could potentially be interested in the switch-hitting third baseman of the San Francisco Giants, Pablo Sandoval, this offseason.
Sandoval, 28, could be in line for a major payday, especially if he continues his torrid postseason pace throughout the World Series against Kansas City. In the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sandoval batted .400 (8-for-20). In his postseason career, spanning 32 games, the animated Giants third baseman has batted .325/.375/.548 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.
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This season, Sandoval appeared in a career-high 157 games, despite putting on weight he had lost in the past 12-to-24 months. He wasn’t a stud offensively, but still put up 16 home runs and 73 RBIs to go along with a .279/.324/.415 line. It should, however, be noted that Luis Valbuena, who heads into 2015 as the likely starting third baseman while Kris Bryant bides his time at Triple-A Iowa, hit the same number of homers as Sandoval – in 200 fewer at-bats.
Valbuena, who is eligible for arbitration this offseason, stepped up his game in a big way in 2014 and, according to MLB Trade Rumors, should be in for a raise from roughly $1.71 million last season to $3.1 million in 2015. While that salary is nearly doubled in a year’s time, it is still a far cry from the five-year deal Sandoval will likely fetch worth somewhere in the ballpark of $80 to $90 million.
Taking Valbuena out of the picture for a moment, adding a bat like Sandoval would change the organization’s plans for Bryant – who has spent most of his time at third base in the minor leagues.
"If the Cubs were to chase and perhaps add a middle-of-the-order switch-hitter such as Sandoval, the arrow would be pointing toward left field for the talented Bryant come spring training."
It’s hard to imagine Sandoval’s postseason experience and offensive prowess not being enticing to the Cubs’ brain trust, but it could very well come down to money and a questionable work ethic. It’s time for Chicago to win – but whether or not the switch-hitting third baseman is an integral piece of that puzzle remains to be seen.