The first domino has fallen for the Minnesota Twins' 2015-16 offseason, and while some feel the club's (pending) addition of Korean homer machine Byung-ho Park will force the front office to trade Trevor Plouffe, I think it will actually give the front office more flexibility for the year ahead.
The Twins still have to sign Park to a contract, they've only won exclusive rights to negotiate with him at this point, but from what reputable media outlets are reporting that shouldn't be an issue. Park's addition would give the Twins another option in an already extremely crowded first base/designated hitter field.
Yes, trading Plouffe and inserting Miguel Sano as the everyday third baseman would solve that problem (if you can call it that). The thing I'd be scared about is what happens then if Sano misses some time, or just can't cut it defensively? Do we see Eduardo Escobar slide over to third and Danny Santana or Jorge Polanco get a shot at shortstop? Everyday Eduardo Nunez? Ugh. Trading Plouffe would be a big hit to the team's depth.
The "problem" with keeping Plouffe and moving Sano to the outfield is there is already depth there, though admittedly a lack of anyone I'd consider established. Off the Baggy did a great breakdown of what Sano in the outfield would mean to the rest of the guys in the picture, so I'll direct you there instead of rehashing that post.
The Pittsburgh Pirates created a similar roster jam of their own when they signed Jung-ho Kang out of Korea last season. Kang started the year on the Pirates' bench serving as a utility player, but a combination of injuries to other infielders and continued improvement resulted him becoming an everyday player. He was one of Pittsburgh's best hitters down the stretch, posting a .931 OPS in the second half.
Perhaps the Twins would be best served to put Park in a similar low pressure, low expectation role to begin 2016. After all, even the biggest Park supporters are admitting he'll likely go through an adjustment period. I see him starting the season playing regularly but not everyday at DH while getting a cameo at 1B here and there.
Keeping Plouffe and giving Sano a look in the OF would also give Paul Molitor plenty of options to ride out streaks, give guys extra days off or survive an injury or two. One thing about the 2015 Twins lineup is it was remarkably healthy, that may not be the case again in '16.
There will very likely come a time in which trading Plouffe will be the right thing to do for the Twins. It may be as soon as the 2016 trade deadline, but it's not right now. This team still has huge holes at catcher and in the bullpen, but why not hold on to in house assets and fill those in free agency?
Keeping Plouffe around gives the team time to figure out where Sano's going to end up in the field, evaluate the young guys who have shown flashes but are not established and allows for Park to have an adjustment period. It's the right move.