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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants and Pablo Sandoval haven’t found sufficient common ground to move forward on contract extension talks, and both sides expect the 2012 World Series MVP to enter his walk year without a new deal.
The Giants on Friday made a three-year offer in the $40 million range, according to Gustavo Vasquez of SPS Sports Group. The offer was rejected out of hand by Sandoval’s camp, which hoped to use Hunter Pence’s five-year, $90 million deal as a starting point in negotiations.
Vasquez will remain in Arizona through the Giants’ season-opening series here and is open to continuing negotiations, but he doubted anything could happen before opening day.
“I don’t think in 24 hours they’ll jump from three years to five or six,” he said.
Vasquez planned to meet with Sandoval after Sunday’s exhibition game. Sandoval had expressed a desire to suspend negotiations until after opening day, and Vasquez wanted to make sure that was still his client’s stance.
“But I know for sure that after the All-Star break, if nothing happens, then it’s on to free agency,” Vasquez said.
Although Giants GM Brian Sabean publicly stated his interest in re-signing Sandoval back in December, it’s reasonable that the organization would be wary of another long-term contract after signing Buster Posey and Matt Cain to whopper deals in recent years.
The Giants have roughly $410 million in salary commitments for 2015 and beyond; only the Dodgers and Yankees have more future salary obligations. The Giants already have $127 million committed to just 12 players for next season.
As Sabean said back at the winter meetings, an extension for Sandoval would be “the conventional wisdom. But I’m only one voice, one vote.”
Given Sandoval’s conditioning issues over his career, it’s hard to believe that all the other voices, including those in the ownership group, would be in harmony over an extension of five years or longer. It appears the three-year offer was the most the baseball operations staff was authorized to put on the table.
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Vasquez and Mike Sandoval, Pablo’s brother, vowed that the player lovingly known as the Kung-Fu Panda has done more than get into prime shape this winter. He made an entire lifestyle adjustment.
“The weight issues he had before, you’ll never see that again,” Vasquez said. “He will have his trainer with him until he retires.”
The Giants’ best shot at retaining Sandoval is to come to terms before he reaches free agency. There’s a reason Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano and so many other prime free agents have signed with AL clubs, who can offer six years and beyond because of the designated hitter.
Although Sandoval doesn’t have a consistent career track record, he figures to be in high demand on a very thin free-agent market. Hanley Ramirez is the only other high-profile infielder who would be eligible for free agency.
That’s something else Sabean understood back in December.
“He’s not going to be short on suitors, trust me,” Sabean said in Orlando. “No matter what his weight is.”