Panda bolts Bay for Beantown

Some may mark 2014 as the start of a dynasty, while others will consider it the end of an era.

Three-time world champion Pablo Sandoval will trade the orange and black for a pair of red socks as he ships off to Boston pending a physical.

Sandoval’s contract with the Red Sox is five years, $95 million and he spurned a similar offer from the Giants to sign it.

The Giants released a statement after the news of Sandoval’s departure broke:

“We will never forget his World Series MVP performance in 2012 and his numerous contributions to the 2014 Championship.  His connection with Giants fans – young and old – is truly special and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.”

Sandoval expressed his remorse with an image of his World Series-clinching catch on Instagram:

“Leaving the #SFGiants & this city I love is the most difficult decision I have ever made.”

He called assistant general manager Bobby Evans, as he said he would, shortly after the decision. Evans reflected on the Panda’s tenure in San Francisco Monday:

“It was a terrific story that he wrote while he was here. He’s been such an important part and an integral part of this organization for a long time. It is hard. It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Sandoval was given a $3 million signing bonus. The breakdown of the contract is $17 million for 2015-2017, then $18 million the last two years. There’s also a $17 million club option for 2020 with a $5 million buyout.

Prior to Sandoval’s signing, Boston inked shortstop Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million contract with a $22 million vesting option for a fifth year.

Sandoval hit .294 with 106 home runs and 462 RBIs with the Giants in seven seasons. He’ll surely add to those numbers within the short Fenway fences.

The Giants will receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second round of next year’s draft and need to figure out a solution for third base.

In-house stopgaps include Sandoval’s defensive stunt double Joaquin Arias and Matt Duffy. Those are not long-term options.

General manager Brian Sabean has said the Giants will have to look outside the organization for a third baseman.

Finding a replacement will be difficult. The Giants lost a staunch defender at the hot corner as well as a cleanup slugger. But they need to supersede a Bay Area legend that left a hole only a Panda could plug.


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