SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval walked up the stairs as he brought up the rear of yet another Giants victory parade and immediately got stopped by home run king Barry Bonds.
”Don’t walk by me,” Bonds ordered, pulling his fellow slugger into an embrace.
Sandoval insists he wants to play the rest of his career for the San Francisco Giants, and for moments just like this. He’s not naming his price, not now.
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”I want to wear that jersey for the rest of my career,” Sandoval said. ”I’m going to go from what my heart tells me.”
As the Giants parted ways for another World Series-shortened offseason, the biggest question is whether Sandoval will be back in the orange and black to make another run at a title.
San Francisco’s slugging, switch-hitting third baseman preferred to savor his third World Series championship for a little while rather than contemplating where he will be suiting up come 2015.
Re-signing the Kung Fu Panda is a top priority for the franchise going forward, too — CEO Larry Baer said ”Pablo’s a huge part of the family” — but it could take months to strike a deal.
”We’re going to do anything possible to keep it together the best we can,” Baer said. ”Literally, when that last shot of confetti goes out, we’re going to be hunkered down after today. I think the fans believe we have a good track record along those lines. We’ve stayed pretty consistent in the approach "
The 28-year-old Sandoval batted .279 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 157 regular-season games for the Giants and .366 in the postseason with seven doubles and five RBIs, four of those during a seven-game World Series win against Kansas City.
”I’d love to be back here, I love the fans, I love my teammates,” Sandoval said. ”They taught me a lot of things, to respect the game and play the game right.”
The sides traded offers last spring but failed to reach a deal. While Sandoval might listen to the highest bidder, he declined to answer when asked about accepting a hometown discount. The Giants realize they might have to open the pocketbook to beat out clubs like big-spending Boston to bring him back.
San Francisco’s $164.7 million season-ending payroll — sixth-highest in the majors — will go up slightly, and again next season. World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner receives bonuses of $100,000 for his World Series MVP and $75,000 for the NLCS MVP.
San Francisco did it again in improbable fashion, finishing the season with 88 wins for second place in the NL West behind the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and then winning the wild-card game at Pittsburgh.
The Giants celebrated with another star-studded affair featuring Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Bonds.
Left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt was still overjoyed by the fact he received the Game 7 victory after an official scoring change that had initially given Bumgarner the win.
Affeldt was drafted by the Royals and once considered quitting during his time in Kansas City, before getting a new start with the Giants.
When he got word he was credited with the win, Affeldt and his wife embraced and cried.
”When they came up to me and told me they changed it, it was just a very emotional thing,” Affeldt said, surrounded by his wife and three sons. ”Kansas City, they gave me a chance to be in the big leagues and I’m very thankful for that. I had a lot good experiences there, but I had a lot of pain, too, adversity and frustration and just wondering if I wanted to be a baseball player. … It’s not just a normal win and it’s not just a normal situation, so I was pretty pumped about that.”
Other free agents are starting pitchers Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong, reliever Sergio Romo and left fielder Michael Morse.
The Giants have a reputation for doing all they can to retain their biggest stars, from second baseman Marco Scutaro and center fielder Angel Pagan after the 2012 title, to long-term deals for ace pitchers Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
Affeldt received an $18 million, three-year contract after the championship two years ago. He trusts general manager Brian Sabean and the front office to make the best decisions.
”Obviously, we’ve got three rings in five years, the guy knows what he’s doing,” Affeldt said.