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Pablo Emilio Juan Pedro Sandoval “Kung Fu Panda” signed a 1-year minor league contract with the Braves on Sunday, a contract that becomes worth $1 million if he’s promoted to Atlanta.
The 34-year old Sandoval is capable of playing third base, first base, & catching; although he shouldn’t be seen as anything more than a 3rd base depth piece until further notice.
Right now, the third base depth chart is as follows: Austin Riley starting, Johan Camargo as backup, Sandoval in the minors. That depth chart could change completely with the next free agent signing or trade. The next addition to Atlanta, other than the players that were Braves last year should be either a left fielder (which would maintain the depth chart outlined above barring any further moves) or a third baseman which would take Riley’s starting spot & move him to left field.
Sandoval hasn’t been a household name since his days in San Francisco during their run of multiple World Series titles. But, Pablo had some of the highest exit velocities in Major League Baseball in 2020. Anthopoulos loves a bargain, and Pablo was signed for relatively nothing, independent of him reaching Atlanta or not. A bargain that could really pay dividends if Pablo can pair his exceptional exit velocity (91.9% in 2020) with a higher barrel percentage (3% in 2020).
His best-case upside scenario aside, if he’s called upon at the big league level and is just average then he’s worth the $1 million for his depth alone. Talent gets you into the postseason, depth keeps you afloat when the worst occurs.
Sandoval can’t be the final move made by the Braves front office if they want to repeat last year’s postseason run or exceed it. Especially with the NL East arrival of Lindor, Carrasco, Hand, Lester & possibly Adam Duvall or Marcell Ozuna (big longshot) joining a division rival.