SAN FRANCISCO -- Demonstrating their belief that Pablo Sandoval's 2011 resurgence was legitimate, the Giants agreed to terms with the third baseman on a three-year contract extension Tuesday, avoiding salary arbitration. Sandoval, 25, hit .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs in 117 games last year and made the National League All-Star team. He accomplished this despite missing 40 early-season games after sustaining a broken right hamate bone and recovering from the subsequent surgery. Sandoval's success contrasted with his struggles in 2010, when he batted .268 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs. More was expected from the switch-hitter after a rousing 2009 (.330, 25 homers, 90 RBIs), but he was noticeably overweight as he slumped. A determined Sandoval lost approximately 40 pounds before last season, which improved his range defensively and boosted his confidence.
"We all recognize that his conditioning program in the offseason and in season is a big part of that success," Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said. "We know that there's still a learning curve and work still has to be done. But we feel like Pablo has the desire and commitment to be productive and elevate his game. He's a big part of our present and our future." The deal, reportedly worth $17.15 million, ushers the Giants and Sandoval through his remaining arbitration-eligible seasons. A .307 career hitter with a .857 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), Sandoval still will become eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. Sandoval and the club finalized their agreement after teams and arbitration-eligible players exchanged figures for proposed one-year contracts. Sandoval, who earned $500,000 last year, asked for $4.25 million. The Giants countered with $3 million. The Giants also trimmed their arbitration-eligible list to two players by agreeing to a $1.3 million deal with outfielder Nate Schierholtz. San Francisco, which began the offseason with 13 arbitration-eligibles, has announced deals with Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Santiago Casilla, Sandoval and Schierholtz since Monday. Regarded as the Giants' most polished right fielder defensively, Schierholtz earned $432,500 last year while hitting .278 with nine homers and 41 RBIs in 117 games. Right-handers Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo are the Giants' pair of remaining arbitration-eligibles. Lincecum, who earned $13 million last year, asked for $21.5 million and was offered $17 million. Romo, who played for $450,000 a year ago, requested $1.75 million and was offered $1.3 million. Attempting to sign right-hander Matt Cain to a contract extension is another priority for the Giants. Cain, 12-11 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011, will become eligible for free agency after this season, when he's slated to earn $15 million in the final year of a three-year, $27.25 million contract.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.