Teams insuring player contracts is somewhat common, most famously used by the Baltimore Orioles when they signed Albert Belle to a five-year contract in December 1998. Belle played just two seasons with the Orioles before he was forced from the game because of a degenerative hip injury, but Baltimore was able to recoup $27 million of the $39 million remaining on his contract thanks to the insurance. Insurance companies have since become much more stringent with their policies.
Sandoval’s tenure with the Red Sox has been disastrous since signing a five-year, $95 million contract in November 2014. He hit just .245 with 10 homers last season, his first in Boston after he won three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants, and was one of the worst-fielding third basemen in the league. Sandoval then appeared out of shape at spring training, with his brother blaming Rafael Alvarez, his personal trainer.
“There was never a conditioning plan as such, but the Red Sox offered their staff to support Pablo in his exercise routine. They met with Pablo’s personal trainer, and they handed a workout plan to be followed for Pablo, but his personal trainer never did it,” Michael Sandoval wrote in an e-mail to ESPN. “[Alvarez] isn’t guided by this plan, as shown by the results so far.”