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Trade value of Pablo Sandoval takes big hit as Red Sox bench the third baseman

Pablo Sandoval will begin the 2016 season on the Red Sox' bench.

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Pablo Sandoval is set to become the highest paid bench player in the majors this season after the Red Sox chose Travis Shaw as their starting third baseman on Thursday.

“For right now to start the season, I feel this is the best for our team to go with this alignment,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. “My focus is on the guys that are in uniform, not what’s attached to them or what their contract states.”

Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Sox prior to the start of last season but had a highly disappointing 2015 in Boston and showed up to the start of this year’s training camp looking out of shape.

“It’s the right decision to help the team win,” Sandoval said Thursday. “It’s going to be difficult, but I have to be happy. [Shaw] has had a fantastic spring. I’ll just focus on working hard.”

Shaw is regarded as a much better defensive player than Sandoval and also hit .274 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs in 2015 in just 65 games played. Sandoval hit just .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 126 games played in 2015.

Sandoval’s value around the league had already been low due to his beefy contract and recent low production, but with the Red Sox having sent him to the bench they themselves are admitting to Sandoval’s sharp decline.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman speculated earlier this week that the Padres could deal 34-year-old pitcher James Shields to Boston in exchange for Sandoval, but even that seems like a stretch now. While Shields had a rough 2015 (3.91 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 13-7 record) he is still most certainly regarded as a starting MLB hurler.

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