Should Sabean reward Sandoval?

September 21, 2011, 9:45 pm
Share This Post

Let's assume Pablo Sandoval's shoulder, whether or not it requires offseason surgery, isn't anything to sweat beyond his winter recovery.Is it time to offer him a long-term deal?Eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, Sandoval is coming off a bounce-back season that would have made him a lock for Comeback Player of the Year had he not missed six weeks with a wrist injury. In fact, he might win the award, anyway; the missed time didn't stop him from making the National League All-Star team, and he took advantage of that opportunity by drilling an RBI double that helped the NL ice the game.He's been the most valuable Giant, no? Of course. He's been the most consistently productive guy on the offensive side of the roster, without question.
His 2011 salary? A bargain-basement 500,000.
In addition to his offense, he's had a fairly spectacular defensive season at the hot corner, and the reason he's been so good this year is that he responded to an ultimatum about his weight -- issued at the start of last offseason by general manager Brian Sabean -- by dropping between 40-45 pounds.Sandoval, who fell out of favor (and the lineup) last year as his waistline reached grotesque proportions, is a man transformed, and he has the potential to transform the future of the franchise. He was a revelation in 2009, and it's easy to look at 2011 as the first step on his climb to genuine superstardom.So what do you do as he enters the first of three years of arbitration eligibility. Lock him up for three years, let him know how valued he is, make him feel like a key part of the future, guarantee him a certain level of finical security while locking in some payroll certainty or your own?Or do you wait a year or so? Make sure the commitment he showed to fitness last season wasn't a one-year deal. Hold off on spending any more money than you have to until you see him report for spring training 2012 without a massive flesh fanny pack.Three years for a total of 20 million? If this is the real Panda, that'd be a steal. If it's not, that'd be a big mistake.What would you do?