SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Kung Fu Panda is moving to Boston.
Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a multiyear contract, and the switch-hitting slugger informed the San Francisco Giants he's leaving.
"Got the call. He is going to the Red Sox,'' Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans said Monday.
Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, had pondered an offer from the Giants worth close to $100 million over five years, a person with knowledge of that proposal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no deal had been announced by the Red Sox.
The burly switch-hitter was beloved in the Bay Area, where fans sported panda hats in his honor _ including a quartet of oversized heads on a few fans during the franchise's latest championship run. His lasting memory will likely be the moment he leaned back on bent knees and raised his arms in triumph after winning another World Series championship last month.
"He has been with us through some of the greatest moments in San Francisco Giants history _ including all three World Series championships,'' the Giants said in a statement. "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, 28, met with the Red Sox last week. After winning his third World Series title in five years with San Francisco, he indicated he wanted to retire with the Giants.
Sandoval joins a big-spending Boston team that finished last in the AL East, one year after winning the World Series. The Red Sox will not forfeit the No. 7 overall pick in June's amateur draft but will give up a later selection.
San Francisco will receive an extra pick between the first and second rounds.
The Giants said they were in touch Monday morning with Sandoval's agent, Gustavo Vasquez, who told the club Sandoval would make a decision later in the day. Vasquez has not returned calls or e-mails regarding the Sandoval negotiations.
Following the Oct. 31 victory parade, Sandoval said he wanted to play the rest of his career for the Giants.
Sandoval hit .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 during the World Series against Kansas City.
"I want to wear that jersey for the rest of my career,'' Sandoval said after the parade. "I'm going to go from what my heart tells me.''
Having the chance to eventually become a designated hitter could have factored into his choice.
After the season, Sandoval declined to answer when asked whether he might accept a hometown discount. He has faced constant criticism about his ever-changing waistline and the fact he performs in the postseason but is far from a consistent performer in the first 162 games.
"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.''
Sandoval and the Giants traded offers in the spring but failed to reach a deal.
General manager Brian Sabean said earlier this month much of his offseason business would be dictated by what the club does with Sandoval. Other free agents are starting pitchers Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong, reliever Sergio Romo and left fielder Michael Morse.
The Giants now are likely to show interest in free agent third baseman Chase Headley. Sabean said when the season ended that Sandoval was the No. 1 priority before anything else got done to build the 2015 roster.
Headley, acquired by the Yankees from San Diego in July, could be an option to take over from Alex Rodriguez as the primary third baseman if New York is able to re-sign him.