Giants, Sandoval willing partners in contract dance

Giants, Sandoval willing partners in contract dance
August 12, 2014, 5:15 pm



Back in the spring, Sandoval’s camp was using Hunter Pence’s five-year, $90 million contract as a starting point in negotiations ... You have to wonder if Sandoval has turned himself into a $100 million player now.
Andrew Baggarly

Editor's note: The above video is from Yahoo SportsTalk Live back on April 8. 

Programming note: White Sox-Giants coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

SAN FRANCISCO – Aside from passing pleasantries, there haven’t been any conversations between the Giants and the agent for third baseman Pablo Sandoval in months.

But Gustavo Vasquez said he remains on good terms with the team, and his camp remains open minded. 

As you might recall, Vasquez said in the spring, after turning down the Giants’ three-year, $40 million offer, that Sandoval would be certain to hit the open market if he didn’t have a new contract by the All-Star break. Asked Tuesday if he maintains that stance, Vasquez softened a bit. He said he wouldn’t rule out anything either way.

[REWIND: Sabean, Giants cut off contract talks with Sandoval]

It’s clear Sandoval is putting himself in a good position. He’s batting .342 with four home runs and 19 RBI over his last 29 games, and ranks second in the NL with a .314 average beginning May 1. He also has 15 hits in his last 31 at-bats (.484) with runners in scoring position. On the last trip, he became the first Giant since Jeff Kent in 2002 to record three or more RBIs in three consecutive games.

His overall numbers -- .283 with 14 homers and 55 RBI – are remarkable when you consider he was hitting .173 as late as May 10.

Sandoval might be demonstrating even more value with his defense while stamping himself as, objectively, the top Gold Glove candidate among NL third basemen. His .980 fielding percentage is the highest among all major leaguers at the position and he’s at 65 consecutive games without an error. (The major league record is 99 at third base, shared by Jeff Cirillo and John Wehner.)

Sources tell me the Giants consider re-signing Sandoval their current top priority as they look to reshape their roster with roughly $125 million already committed in guaranteed salary for 2015. That’s a major reason they didn’t make any trades to acquire players who were guaranteed money next year or beyond.

Sandoval would be happy to return as well, I’m told. Both sides want to dance, but the music hasn’t started yet. In the meantime, Sandoval continues to help his cause. His defensive play essentially doubles the marketplace for his services, since he’s more attractive to NL teams.

Back in the spring, Sandoval’s camp was using Hunter Pence’s five-year, $90 million contract as a starting point in negotiations. GM Brian Sabean wasn’t authorized to approach that figure, either in dollars or years.

You have to wonder if Sandoval, who will be just 27 if and when he hits the open market, has turned himself into a $100 million player now.

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