Maybe fans should come to expect this from Miguel Sanó. He goes through stretches where he seems lost at the plate. Then he follows those stretches with weeks where it looks like he figures it out and puts it all together. As the season has progressed, Sanó has drastically improved, but many fans tuned out after the team fell out of contention.
In the season’s first half, Sanó hit .196/.279/.426 (.705) with 15 home runs and eight doubles in 60 games started. His entire slash line was below his career marks, but his batting average and on-base percentage were higher than his 2020 campaign. Since July, Sanó has hit .243/.340/.505 (.845) with 14 home runs and 15 doubles. His OPS+ is now at 111 for the season, which is six points higher than 2020.
Defensively, he ranks near the bottom of the American League when it comes to SABR’s Defensive Index. In his first full season at first base, Baseball-Reference has him worth -1.1 Defensive WAR, and that total is similar to his last season at third base in 2019. He has been worth -3 Defensive Runs Saved, a two-run improvement over last season. He may never be outstanding at first base, but he has the athleticism to be passable at the position.
Minnesota has other options for Sanó if the team decides to move him off the position in 2022. Nelson Cruz is gone, and Sanó can slide into a permanent designated hitter role with Alex Kirilloff taking over at first base. Kirilloff is a better defender, and first base is his likely long-term defensive position.
Sanó has one year and $9.25 million remaining on his current contract, with a $2.75 million buyout for the 2023 season. Over the last three seasons, FanGraphs puts Sanó’s value at $28.5 million, but $22.2 million of that value came in 2019 when baseballs were bouncing out of ballparks at record rates. In four of his seven big-league seasons, he has been worth more than $9.25 million.
Even with a hot second-half, Sanó’s trade market won’t exactly be booming. Power hitting first basemen are easy to come by, and the cost is relatively cheap. Last winter, Minnesota signed Cruz to a one-year, $13-million deal, and he was one of the best power hitters in baseball. Sanó has a similar skill set, but Cruz has been a better offensive weapon.
For the Twins, a better option might be to try and package Sanó as part of a deal to acquire controllable starting pitching. There’s no question that starting pitching is the Twins' most significant need this winter, and Minnesota has tradable assets at the big-league level. Sanó might not be the headliner of an off-season trade, but his inclusion might add enough to make another team agree to a deal.
Do you think Sanó has increased his trade value in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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