Hot 2011 pays off for Panda

Praise the baseball gods, we San Francisco Giants fans won’t have to retire our Panda hats.

In an off-season that has been marked by salary caps and the loss of crowd favorites, the Gigantes signed third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a three-year $17.5 million contract.

And nobody can deny it: After the end of the 2011 regular season, the Panda man definitely earned it.

Sandoval didn’t just train like a mad man and drop nearly 40 pounds. He came off a broken hand with more zeal than other offenses had in their whole lineup, ending the season with 23 homers, 70 RBIs, and a .315 batting average.

Oh, and he finished off the season hitting for a cycle against the rival Colorado Rockies.

So after putting the Kung Fu Panda through a physical—to ensure his ongoing commitment to a rigorous fitness regimen, of course—the Giants bought Sandoval’s three years of arbitration. Sandoval will receive $3.2 million for the 2012 season, $5.7 million for 2013, and $8.25 million in 2014.

Sandoval isn’t the only player that the Giants signed without having to go through the convoluted process that is contract arbitration. San Fran also signed newly-hitched left fielder Nate Schierholtz to a one-year $1.3 million dollar deal, while fellow outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan also signed deals earlier in the week.

And there’s that business with the long-haired pitcher and the deal that NEEDS to happen to keep him in San Fran.

But that’s another article for another time.