On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins introduced Korean first baseman/DH Byung Ho Park to the media, but the most interesting part of the news conference was when GM Terry Ryan said the team would look to move slugger Miguel Sano to a corner outfield position. That's 260-pound Miguel Sano.
Basically the only starting right fielder in MLB history with a listed weight as big as Miguel Sano was Frank Howard from 1962-1964.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) December 2, 2015
Sano was developed as a third baseman but spent most of his rookie season as a DH, after missing the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery. As a prospect he was viewed as an adequate third baseman although he's now barely played there in two seasons. I'm skeptical of the move -- see how the Hanley Ramirez transition to the outfield went -- but Ryan seemed insistent.
From SD Buhr at Twins Daily: Ryan was asked if he expects to make more roster moves, obviously alluding to the possibility of trading incumbent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. His response seemed unequivocal, stating that he did not expect to make additional changes to the regular lineup. "We’re going to go with what we’ve got," he said. He added, "We’re going to move Sano to the outfield."
Things change, of course. Baseball’s winter meetings are coming up and it’s reasonable to expect that Ryan will get some inquiries about the availability of some of his players, including Plouffe. Maybe his unambiguous statements are just part of a posture he’s taking to send a message to his peers that they should not expect to get Plouffe (or anyone) for peanuts.
But, to me, he certainly sounded and looked like a man who believes his everyday lineup is just about set in stone.
Right now, that lineup could look something like this:
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
RF Miguel Sano
DH Byung Ho Park
3B Trevor Plouffe
CF Byron Buxton
Knocking on the door -- RF/1B Max Kepler
That's an intriguing lineup if Park can make the transition to the majors and Buxton settles in at the plate. Kepler hit .322/.416/.531 at Double-A in a breakout campaign and the German could be ready for the majors after a couple months at Triple-A.
There's no reason to trade Plouffe. First, depth is a good thing. You can give guys more days off, get better matchups and so on. You also don't know if Park will hit major league pitching and Mauer, while he played 158 games in 2015, has been injury-prone in the past. If Sano proves to be a liability in right field and Kepler is ready, you could simply move guys around like this:
Kepler 100 games
Sano 35 games
Arcia 25 games
Plouffe 120 games
Sano 40 games
Mauer 120 games
Park 40 games
Park 90 games
Sano 70 games
That's 145 games for Sano and he has to learn only one new position instead of two. Park was a three-time Gold Glove winner in Korea so should be competent at first base.
Another option, as Keith Law suggested in his chat on Thursday, would be to play Sano in left with Kepler in right and to use Rosario as the trade chip instead of Plouffe.
Ultimately, Paul Molitor should learn to love the flexibility. With full seasons from Sano and Buxton and the power potential of Park, the Twins could be one of the more exciting teams to watch in 2016.
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