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How Will Sano’s Return Impact the Roster?

So far this season, Minnesota has been clubbing the ball out of the ballpark at quite the rate. The team has been able to do this with one of their best sluggers, Miguel Sano, recovering from an injury. Sano is in the midst of a rehab stint and he is getting close to rejoining the big-league club.

How will Sano’s return impact the club’s roster?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Marwin’s Struggles
Marwin Gonzalez has been getting most of the playing time at third base with Sano out of the line-up. Entering play on Monday, he is hitting .204/.271/.286 with four extra-base hits in 98 at-bats. These are far below his career totals (.261/.316/.414). One has to wonder if his late signing this spring has impacted his ability to get prepared for the season’s start.

Even with his struggles, Gonzalez has shown some positive signs this season. His 91.1 exit velocity is higher than his career average. It is also higher than the MLB average this season (87.4 mph). His launch angle is around the league average at 9.0 but it's below the totals he’s put together the last two years.

Defensively, Gonzalez ranks in the middle of the pack among American League third basemen. FanGraphs credits him with one defensive run saved so far this year. His 1.4 defensive WAR ranks him sixth among the 11 qualified AL third basemen.

Roster Space
Finding roster space for Sano could come from the back-end of the bench or from a 13-man pitching staff. From the bench, Ehire Adrianza seems like a likely candidate to make way for Sano. He’s hit .146/.250/.220 in 16 games this season. If Adrianza is the odd-man out, Gonzalez could shift to a fill-in role at multiple positions.

Jake Cave could also be sent back to Rochester if the Twins are comfortable with Gonzalez serving as the fourth outfielder. Cave has hit .206/.289/.235 this season with one extra-base hit in 14 games. He has more strikeouts (9) than hits (7). Cave might be more replaceable since Adrianza is currently listed as the back-up shortstop on the team’s depth chart.

Minnesota is also carrying 13 pitchers so the team could trim the pitching staff to 12 pitchers. Mike Morin, Fernando Romero or Matt Magill could all be candidates to taken off the 25-man roster. The Twins are in the midst of quite a stretch of games so the extra man in the bullpen might be a necessity.

Playing Time
If Sano is going to take back the reins at third, Gonzalez will need to slide into a secondary role. It still seems likely for Gonzalez to get playing time at other positions in the line-up, especially if Cave is the one sent down. Gonzalez’s ability to play multiple positions could shift him to a super-utility role in the weeks ahead.

Sano could also spend some time at designated hitter, but it seems likely for Nelson Cruz to continue to get the majority of those at-bats. Among regular non-catching starters, Cruz is tied with Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez for sixth most games played. His 38-year old body might need some rest in the months ahead.

How do you think Sano will impact the line-up? Who gets sent down? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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121 Comments

I'm guessing Adrianza is DFA when Sano returns.Marwin and Tortuga can fill the utility role. Seems like they have been showcasing Ehire the last week or so to drum up some trade interest.Unfortunately, outside of his HR against Verlander, there hasn't been a lot of productivity. 

    • glunn, nokomismod, LA VIkes Fan and 4 others like this
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Dr. Beanpole
May 06 2019 01:19 PM

With Cave off to a slow start and the fact that he's still got options left, he's got to be the guy that gets sent down. Maybe if he can get hot with some real playing time in AAA he can come back and be productive, but right now he's the most likely guy to go I think.

    • USAFChief, glunn, Blake and 13 others like this
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The Mask of Zoilo
May 06 2019 01:26 PM
With Astudillo coming back as well, Cave will surely be sent down. As for the second cut, it depends how comfortable they are with Marwin playing short and Astudillo playing the outfield as far as releasing or trading Ehire.
    • glunn, bighat, caninatl04 and 2 others like this

The most obvious move when Sano returns is to send Cave to AAA. Cave hasn't played well enough this year to require a roster spot and Gonzalez might actually be a better choice as the reserve corner outfielder since he can bat right handed. I see Sano being the ever-day third baseman when he returns and Gonzalez shifting to the super-utility role off the bench.

    • glunn and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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AWOLNATION_11
May 06 2019 01:50 PM

I doubt the front office will want to be too aggressive on a DFA.I wouldn't be surprised if it just turns out to be someone else getting an IL stint, whether it is a significant injury or something less severe that in other circumstances would likely be a day-to-day thing.   

    • glunn and DocBauer like this

I really like Adrianza, but I'm afraid he's the victim of the numbers game here.

 

Keep in mind that Astudillo is coming back soon also. In reality, two guys have to go. Cave has options, so as mentioned above, he could go down and Marwin can serve as the 4th outfielder/swiss-army knife guy. However, having Adrianza, Gonzalez, Sanó, and Astudillo is kind of redundant and the Twins have infield depth still in the minors.

 

Sending down a pitcher is probably very likely, especially considering the starting pitching has been pretty solid and we have a lot of non-playoff teams coming up on our schedule. The real choice here probably is DFAing Adrianza or optioning Cave.

    • glunn, DocBauer, bighat and 1 other like this

Marwin had 2 putouts from left field in one game againt the Yankees.I think he can serve as 4th OF, so I see Cave being sent down first.Who's next?Well, with the staff pitching pretty well, I think 13 in the pen is probably not necessary.

    • glunn and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Cave will be the first to go, whether that's when Astudillo returns, or Sano, whichever comes first.

 

For the second of those, I am guessing they'll try to get back to a 12 man staff. Whichever of the bottom of the pen guys is floundering the worst goes down. 

    • glunn, Blake, Twins33 and 6 others like this

Both Cave and Adrianza are not needed on this roster. When they are, it becomes a game to put them in a game, even when you would rather not. And they are truly not inspiring pinch hitters. Gonzalez is finally coming on after another slow start, and Sano will be at third. Maybe you lose Adrianza. Maybe not. No big loss (....he did have that homer in the 1-0 Houston game....). Cave has the option. I hope the bats wake up again in Toronto.

    • Vanimal46 and LeePinLee like this

Cave is the first. Makes the team even more right-handed. Meanwhile, there's little to suggest the staff will be anything less than 13, at least for any meaningful period of time.

 

I'd guess we are 4-6 weeks from finding out a couple of things...how comfortable are the Twins with Gonzales filling in at SS to spell Polanco? How comfortable going with Gordon in the event of an IL stint for Polanco? If the answer to either of these is negative, I don't see them parting with Adrianza. Hopefully, we find out...because that would mean no injuries to other players making the questions moot.

    • nokomismod likes this

Cave is the first. Makes the team even more right-handed. Meanwhile, there's little to suggest the staff will be anything less than 13, at least for any meaningful period of time.

I'd guess we are 4-6 weeks from finding out a couple of things...how comfortable are the Twins with Gonzales filling in at SS to spell Polanco? How comfortable going with Gordon in the event of an IL stint for Polanco? If the answer to either of these is negative, I don't see them parting with Adrianza. Hopefully, we find out...because that would mean no injuries to other players making the questions moot.


Nobody should be comfortable with Adrianza playing everyday if Polanco has an IL stint, so I'm not sure why that hypothetical is the barometer for keeping him.
He happens to be the replacement level player that is currently on the roster, but any replacement level player will do just as well.
    • jokin, h2oface, rghrbek and 4 others like this
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stringer bell
May 06 2019 04:24 PM

It is Cave that goes down. Adrianza is the backup in the middle infield and has a good glove. He isn't a regular and not a big league average hitter, but he isn't an automatic out either. 

    • DocBauer likes this

He happens to be the replacement level player that is currently on the roster, but any replacement level player will do just as well.


As an everyday shortstop? I’m pretty sure the entire organization would beg to differ. It will have to be a player that can be better than replacement level defensively at that position.
    • TheLeviathan and DocBauer like this

Cave has options and... and... he hasn't played in the Month of May. He's gathering dust on the bench so send him down to Rochester yesterday. Whoever comes back first between Sano and Astudillo should send Cave down to Rochester. 

 

When the 2nd guy between Sano and Astudillo returns... Adrianza or a bullpen arm as Chief suggested. 

 

We also need to keep in mind that Addison Reed is starting to ramp up and Mejia won't be on the D.L. forever. Neither Reed or Mejia can be sent to Rochester without waivers getting involved. So the bullpen guys who have options (Harper and Romero) have to do some proving of themselves quick... and I mean quickly. 

 

As players start to return... Only future players going on the D.L. will save Adrianza. So yeah... they might as well showcase him now.  

    • glunn, Blake, jokin and 2 others like this

 

Cave has options and... and... he hasn't played in the Month of May. He's gathering dust on the bench so send him down to Rochester yesterday. Whoever comes back first between Sano and Astudillo should send Cave down to Rochester. 

 

When the 2nd guy between Sano and Astudillo returns... Adrianza or a bullpen arm as Chief suggested. 

 

We also need to keep in mind that Addison Reed is starting to ramp up and Mejia won't be on the D.L. forever. Neither Reed or Mejia can be sent to Rochester without waivers getting involved. So the bullpen guys who have options (Harper and Romero) have to do some proving of themselves quick... and I mean quickly. 

 

As players start to return... Only future players going on the D.L. will save Adrianza. So yeah... they might as well showcase him now.  

I think Sano has a short leash, however.

 

The team has not missed either his bat or his defense.

    • LeePinLee likes this

 

I think Sano has a short leash, however.

 

The team has not missed either his bat or his defense.

 

Sano has an option remaining so if HE goes all 2018 on us... that could be a consideration.

 

However... right now... I'm personally not thinking that way. I'm reading 5-11 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI's in 4 games, I'm reading that he lost 25 pounds and he will be joining a team that is collectively stroking the ball. 

 

I think he's going to come up and blow the roof off. 

 

I've been wrong before.:)

 

If Sano and Astudillo come back with no one else getting injured for awhile.I can see a roster of:

 

Castro

Garver

Cron

Sano

Astudillo

Schoop

Polanco

Marwin

Rosario

Buxton 

Kepler

Cruz

 

Not one of those 12 deserve to be on the bench. Baldelli will have platoon options, match up options, hot/cold options. I can't wait! 

    • glunn, Blake, jokin and 5 others like this

DFA Adrianza for Sano and then option Cave for Astudillo.Keep Gonzalez as the utility guy off the bench.If Gonzalez or Adrianza were hitting a little better, it might be worth trying to trade them for prospects.I don't think there would be anything of value in return for either guy right now.

    • glunn, LA VIkes Fan, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

 

Sano has an option remaining so if goes all 2018 on us... that could be a consideration.

 

However... right now... I'm personally not thinking that way. I'm reading 5-11 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI's in 4 games, I'm reading that he lost 25 pounds and he will be joining a team that is collectively stroking the ball. 

 

I think he's going to come up and blow the roof off. 

 

I've been wrong before.:)

 

If Sano and Astudillo come back with no one else getting injured for awhile.I can see a roster of:

 

Castro

Garver

Cron

Sano

Astudillo

Schoop

Polanco

Marwin

Rosario

Buxton 

Kepler

Cruz

 

Not one of those 12 deserve to be on the bench. Baldelli will have platoon options, match up options, hot/cold options. I can't wait! 

I really hope you're right. It's that with Sano, I admit I'm down on Sano, so, I hope he's finally figured it out and gotten his act together.

 

Though, a case can be made that two of the last three years have been lost years for this team which may not have helped Sano's development. 

    • Riverbrian likes this
Positively.
    • USAFChief and TheLeviathan like this

Cave and Astudillo (I fear) will be spending much of the season in Rochester. Adrianza and the extra bullpen guys will stay. It's just the conservative type of move that seems most likely to me, having watched this team.

 

Positively.

 

Hopefully!

 

As with Buxton, I went from expecting production, to accepting any production.

    • jokin likes this
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TheLeviathan
May 06 2019 08:30 PM

It's Cave and then probably Romero.Or some other dude from the pen.

 

Adrianza is this team's backup SS.He's not going anywhere.(Though he's been pretty bad so far, that's for sure)

As an everyday shortstop? I’m pretty sure the entire organization would beg to differ. It will have to be a player that can be better than replacement level defensively at that position.


Adrianza isn't an everyday SS either. That's my point.
I'm not saying an everyday SS is easy to find, they aren't.
I'm saying Adrianza isn't one either. If you lose him and Polanco gets hurt, you plug in a different replacement level SS, and you're no worse than you were with Adrianza.

Adrianza is fine defensively, but let's not pretend he's some irreplaceable wizard out there. He's just solid, with very little bat.
    • beckmt, rghrbek, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

It's Cave and then probably Romero. Or some other dude from the pen.

Adrianza is this team's backup SS. He's not going anywhere. (Though he's been pretty bad so far, that's for sure)


The well run and well managed Astros trusted Marwin enough at SS to put him there 301 times.
Sano coming back will free up Gonzalez to back up SS when needed.
    • Otwins and Original Whizzinator like this

 

Sano coming back will free up Gonzalez to back up SS when needed.

 

That's what I'm hoping for. He's likely stretched there defensively, but how many days off does Polanco need (sans injury)?

    • jokin and Original Whizzinator like this

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