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Front Page: Should the Twins Be In on Cole Hamels?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:17 PM
Cole Hamels is one of the best starting pitchers on the open market and teams are definitely looking into him. It is rumored that 13 team...
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Rosenthal says Odorizzi looks to be accepting

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:13 PM
  Next seasons market appears better for him and no draft strings attached.
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Hooking a Big Fish

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:46 PM
There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: The Window Just Opened

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:21 PM
Much has been made of Thad Levine’s quote last year where he said, “When (the window is open), we plan on striking.”So much, in fact, tha...
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Astros Being Investigated for Using Tech to Steal Pitchin...

Other Baseball Today, 02:18 PM
I can no longer say I want the Twins to emulate the Astros. Bush league maneuver to use cameras in order to steal signs.
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Hot Corner Consideration: Potential Third Base Alternatives to Miguel Sano

Inside the Twins’ meeting rooms this winter, plenty of discussion will be focused on starting pitching. However, third base should be a serious consideration for the front office.
Image courtesy of © Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Miguel Sanó

Sanó had a monstrous season and returns as a cog in the lineup. Here are Miggy’s numbers in a full season with AL ranks:

HR: 52 (1st)
RBI: 122 (2nd)
SLG: .576 (5th)
OPS: .923 (7th)

Sanó has broken out at the plate, but his defense is less promising. He led his position in errors and his UZR was a poor -6.7. Rocco Baldelli recently said in an interview with Do-Hyoung Park that there are not any plans to move him over to first. If Falvey and Levine do indeed keep him there, C.J. Cron will likely be resigned for a projected $8 million arbitration salary.

Here are acquisitions that could improve the defense:

Josh Donaldson

Donaldson is a free agent after signing for one-year and $23 million with Atlanta last offseason. Donaldson rewarded the Braves with a .900 OPS and 6.1 WAR.

Donaldson has been hampered by injuries since his torrid three-year stretch in Toronto where he won MVP with 41 homers and a .939 OPS in 2015. Donaldson is an elite third baseman, saving 68 runs above average in his career.

Given is age, he will likely demand a two or three year contract worth $22-28 million annually. If the Twins miss on Cole and Strasburg, they will have plenty of money to spend elsewhere. Donaldson has also played in 39 career postseason games.

Kris Bryant

Bryant, unlike Donaldson, is under arbitration. Bryant earned $12.9 million in 2019 and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to get $18.5 million in 2020.

GM Theo Epstein says “change is coming” this offseason and there is speculation that Bryant will be moved. Bryant is a star, owning a career .901 OPS, a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP honor, and a World Series ring. There is no doubt that he would require a substantial haul. Writer Jon Morosi says there will likely need to be a top 30 prospect involved.

Luckily for the Twins, they have two: Royce Lewis (No. 9) and Alex Kiriloff (No. 15), according to MLB Pipeline. Bryant is under team control until 2022, so the Twins will need to gauge whether expending Lewis and/or Kiriloff is worth it. Bryant is a slightly below average defender with a career -0.8 UZR and -1 DRS.

Mike Moustakas

Moose has a mutual $11 million option, but Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Moustakas will likely opt out after posting a 3.2 WAR and 35 homers in 2019.

Moustakas is a three time All-Star and received MVP votes in 2015 after winning the World Series with Kansas City. Playing over 1,000 games at third base, his UZR and DRS are both positive.

In 2019, Moustakas was an average defender with a 0.2 UZR and 0 DRS in 105 games. The Twins would figure to spend a bit more than they would for C.J. Cron, but Moustakas would be a massive upgrade defensively and adds another strong bat to the lineup.

What should they do?

Looking at the chart below, we can see that Donaldson was the premier defender in 2019, and given his experience and prowess at the plate, he would take this team and infield to the next level. Pay the man, reap the rewards.

Screen Shot 2019 10 18 At 1.28.20 PM

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68 Comments

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specialiststeve
Oct 18 2019 09:11 PM

Need to BREAK the bank on an ace and if possible 2.If that means trading a top minor leaguer so be it. Our everyday lineup is great the way it is. We need top end pitching to go anywhere beyond Division winners... Which was great but.... Beating the Astro's or Yankees will take Studs at the top of our rotation. Which we now lack. 

    • brvama, Dman and wabene like this

I've said it before. Sano is most valuable at 3B. This is the time to work his tail off (If he is willing) to improve his 3B skills. (If he is not willing...trade him.) He may or may not improve his fielding, but I remember Trevor Plouffe and how an extra year playing 3B improved his performance.It could happen for Sano too.

    • brvama, Dman, DocBauer and 4 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 18 2019 09:19 PM

 

I've said it before. Sano is most valuable at 3B. This is the time to work his tail off (If he is willing) to improve his 3B skills. (If he is not willing...trade him.) He may or may not improve his fielding, but I remember Trevor Plouffe and how an extra year playing 3B improved his performance.It could happen for Sano too.

Plouffe didn't have Sano's physical limitations holding him back. Sano is an amazing athlete but only so much can be done with a 6'4", 270 lb frame.

I don't know if I'd worry too much about Sano manning third in 2020 but I'd be looking for a replacement, and soon.

    • Twins33, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 4 others like this

Sano can improve in 3 ways.

- His positioning. (His coaches should be more active with that.)

- His quickness (he could lose 20 lbs and add muscle)

- His decision making. (That comes with experience.)

 

His arm is fantastic.

 

I remember Sal Bando. I swear he played 3B with his chest. He should have worn a chest protector. But he'd pick those balls up and throw us out.Sano can do that too.

    • brvama, Hosken Bombo Disco, David HK and 1 other like this
I appreciate good defense. I think it's important. I don't dismiss it. And I appreciate the OP and the intentions behind it. But I am going to disagree with the premise as presented. And not just due to salary implications for a team that needs to address the rotation first and foremost, plus adding an addition LHRP option to make a potentially great BP.

For reflection sake, said this before, many times, give Sano some time. I've seen so many sluggers Twins and otherwise, who were too big, too stiff, who had stone hands, but given time turned out to be solid, if not excellent, 3B. Doesn't happen for everyone. Sano's cannon is special. He charges grounders well. Pop ups are now outs, not an adventure. While his range will always be somewhat limited, his hands are pretty soft. IMO, there is no way I'd move him at this point, especially considering all the mitigating factors.

Eventually, yes, I can see him at 1B, or even, hopefully, embracing a DH role as he approaches 30. Kids like Lewis, Kirilloff and Larnach and Rooker, not traded, will have some say in roster construction moving forward. But I absolutely stick with him at 3B for now.

BUT, for giggles, keeping in mind the original OP, Moose would be the guy I would target in this scenario.
    • brvama, Kelly Vance, ewen21 and 5 others like this

If the Twins want to move Sano to 1B - which I don't see happening, but it's in the realm of possibility - I would like signing Moustakas. You'd get a .800+ OPS with average 3B defense (3B is a hard position to play, so just average is good in my book) for not too much. Maybe 3 years, $45M?

 

Just on paper I'd prefer Moustakas over bringing back Cron, but moving Sano to 1B may not be the best decision value-wise.

    • darin617, Sconnie, DocBauer and 3 others like this
No Rendon??
    • Twins33, Winston Smith, Sconnie and 3 others like this
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Nash Walker
Oct 19 2019 12:01 AM

 

No Rendon??

 

Love that you mentioned this, thank you! I probably should have put him in for fun but it seems very improbable the Twins would land him. Maybe my other options are also unlikely but Rendon is the cream of the crop in my opinion. 

    • wabene likes this
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ToddlerHarmon
Oct 19 2019 01:42 AM
I'm okay with Sano at third in 2020, in hopes he improves. However, it seems to me that his limited range stretches Polanco too, so something needs to give. Is it just me, or did Polanco do much better defensively when Gonzales was filling in at third every day?
    • tarheeltwinsfan, David HK and wabene like this
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The Wise One
Oct 19 2019 06:18 AM

 

Sano can improve in 3 ways.

- His positioning. (His coaches should be more active with that.)

- His quickness (he could lose 20 lbs and add muscle)

- His decision making. (That comes with experience.)

 

His arm is fantastic.

 

I remember Sal Bando. I swear he played 3B with his chest. He should have worn a chest protector. But he'd pick those balls up and throw us out.Sano can do that too.

When they called them the Minnesota Lumber Company back when Bando was playing,it wasn't for anything they were doing with their bats. Some gave a new meaning to lead foot. Nick Punto on a bad day could throw them out.

The Twins ranked 23rd in offense at 1B in 2019. They ranked 25th in defense at 3B. If the FO can bring in a good defensive 3B who provides at least as much offense as a healthy Cron, they should switch Sano to 1B.

 

Starting pitchers are the priority. I wouldn't pass on a front-line starter to get a third baseman. But infield defense matters. So does offensive production at 1B. They should make the change if the FO wants to put a better team on the field in 2020.

 

 

    • DannySD likes this
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Tommygun921
Oct 19 2019 07:46 AM
I think they should save the money for pitching. I'd like to see Sano man third base for another season until Lewis is MLB ready. Hopefully he can take over third with Lewis taking over third. If the Twins decide to move on from Cron however and move Sano to first. I'd be happiest with Moustakas. I like him as a player and he wouldn't cost prospects. I think he can also stay healthier than Donaldson.
    • DocBauer and wabene like this
Lewis SS
Polanco 3B
Sano 1B or DH.
All in 2021. Arraez 2B.
    • DocBauer, DannySD and IAMNFan like this

Lewis SS
Polanco 3B
Sano 1B or DH.
All in 2021. Arraez 2B.


But Lewis at 3B and keep Polanco at SS, IMO. I think he has the stronger arm.
    • brvama and Danchat like this

I can't envision a way that the Twins would spend the kind of money it would take to get Donaldson or Bryant. I am wondering what the blowback would be if they did spend that money then said they can'y afford a near top line pitcher. UGH! Moose would be my choice. The Twins don't have any great player currently playing 3rd in the minors so this is a timely question. They also must look at the long term future of Lewis and Polanco. Lots of questions to ponder.

    • brvama likes this
Maybe they could get Escobar back from Arizona. He's
getting paid less than Cron or Gonzales.
    • Dman, tarheeltwinsfan, wabene and 1 other like this
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ChrisKnutson
Oct 19 2019 10:24 AM

But Lewis at 3B and keep Polanco at SS, IMO. I think he has the stronger arm.


In the short term (2020-21) I think this would be the best route for the team to take. However, I do envision a Lewis/Polanco duo up the middle at some point.
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Kelly Vance
Oct 19 2019 10:39 AM

I'm with Doc on this. Sano is young still and improved a lot this year.His defense should improve with greater mobility. But for me its a case of who replaces Cron in the batting order. Both Donaldson and Moose would upgrade the order, but at what cost? And really, if that cuts into the dough available to sign a stud starter, i'm against it. Plus it is my guess that the defense you gain in putting Moose or Donaldson at 3b you lose in replacing Cron with Sano at 1b where Sano would be learning a new position. 

 

But if we are going to talk about switching positions, we might consider resigning Schoop and putting him at 3rd.So that requires a comparison about who would be the more valuable hitter, Schoop or Cron.Schoop has the arm for 3b, and his defense would likely be better than Sano.The questions is , once again, what do you gain at 3b versus a loss overall at 1b.But everyone says let Schoop go. I'd not so sure.He is well liked in the clubhouse, still has game and its not like guys at his ability lever grow on trees. Just a thought. 

 

But my vote would be: Use the money on stud pitchers please. 

    • brvama and wabene like this

Here are Miggy’s numbers in a full season with AL ranks:

HR: 52 (1st)


I realize this is a nitpick but I have to. :) If what you did there was extrapolate to 162 games (162*HR/G), Sanó isn't even 1st on his own team, much less the entire AL. Cruz and Garver both outpace him. Maybe it's true that if you factor in what a 162-game season would look like for him, he'd jump past everyone else's actual numbers - but in fairness you ought to let all the other players in the league get their multipliers too. (This leaves aside that only 6 major leaguers appeared in 162 games in 2019, and Sanó seems one of the less likely candidates to be allowed to do so even if never on the IL all season.)

 

With that now out of my system, I'm in the camp that prefers to see if a bit more defensive capability can be taught to Sanó, in preference to any other solutions that cost significant salary to someone else. He handles slowly-hit balls as well as anyone I recall seeing lately, because his arm is strong and accurate, which means there is something to build on. He'll never be rangy to his left or right, but as long as he's got that bat, he's a plus at 3B (just not defensively), which means the team retains the positional flexibility to have an additional good bat at 1B. So if we do add someone at 3B and move Sanó to 1B, the comparison should be to Cron, not to Sanó.

    • whosafraidofluigirussolo likes this

 

But Lewis at 3B and keep Polanco at SS, IMO. I think he has the stronger arm.

Of course that might not be the case either if Lewis is taking Buxton's place in center.  

    • DocBauer and wabene like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 19 2019 12:24 PM

 

I've said it before. Sano is most valuable at 3B. This is the time to work his tail off (If he is willing) to improve his 3B skills. (If he is not willing...trade him.) He may or may not improve his fielding, but I remember Trevor Plouffe and how an extra year playing 3B improved his performance.It could happen for Sano too.

He certainly does not lack arm strength. He needs some of Berrios' mobility drills. 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 19 2019 12:29 PM

 

I'm okay with Sano at third in 2020, in hopes he improves. However, it seems to me that his limited range stretches Polanco too, so something needs to give. Is it just me, or did Polanco do much better defensively when Gonzales was filling in at third every day?

I really like Gonzales at 3B. Do his 3B fielding stats support my statement? 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 19 2019 12:31 PM

 

Maybe they could get Escobar back from Arizona. He's
getting paid less than Cron or Gonzales.

I'd be working on that trade today.

    • Huskertwin likes this
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Winston Smith
Oct 19 2019 12:33 PM

 

Love that you mentioned this, thank you! I probably should have put him in for fun but it seems very improbable the Twins would land him. Maybe my other options are also unlikely but Rendon is the cream of the crop in my opinion. 

They have plenty of money to sign Rendon and a couple starting pitchers if Pohlad will spend it.

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Nash Walker
Oct 19 2019 12:39 PM

 

I really like Gonzales at 3B. Do his 3B fielding stats support my statement? 

Good catch. Marwin was great in his 291 1/3 innings at third this year. He had 4 DRS and his UZR/150 is 18.9. Both are outstanding. If I am the Twins I worry about his health and bat (just a .736 OPS last year) as an every day third baseman. 

    • ToddlerHarmon and wabene like this

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