Minnesota Twins GM: Sano could play outfield


Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan told ESPN 1500 in a radio interview today that Miguel Sano could see time in the outfield.

Ryan was asked to address earlier comments made by Manager Paul Molitor alluding to the position rotation. The GM said such a move would allow Sano, Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer to all be in the lineup, while keeping the DH spot open.

“If we could have all those bats in the lineup, that would help us,” Ryan said.

Additionally, Ryan said  “I don’t think it would be a stretch to tell you this guy could play outfield and do it OK.,” noting he has the arm and speed to play outfield, but the team needs to see him handle routes and angles. It should be noted that Plouffe saw some action in the outfield in 2011-12, with less-than-stellar metrics defensively.

Ryan said Plouffe’s defense improved in 2015, although his UZR fell from 6.7 to 1.7, and Defensive Runs Saved dropped from +6 to -1 from 2014. He is, to be fair, significantly better than he was prior to 2014.

Here’s some other notes from Ryan’s interview:

• He was hoping to get another year out of Torii Hunter, who held his retirement press conference early Thursday. Ryan commended Hunter’s career, noting he was a .223 hitter when he was brought up the first time, and would have never cracked an organizational top-10 prospects list on his way to Minnesota.

• After mediocre seasons, relievers Nick Burdi and Jake Reed are impressing the GM in the Arizona Fall League, though he mentions the league isn’t the best for gauging pitchers, who throw every four days on average.Both pitchers’ stuff and confidence looked better than their 2015 seasons, and both stand a “pretty good” chance to be on the fast track.

“Burdi is throwing the ball better than I’ve seen him, and Reed certainly stepped up his game,” Ryan noted.

With the Twins’ bullpen in disarray in 2015, a summer emergence of one or both young arms would downplay the need to chase a long-term, expensive bullpen arm. FanGraphs’ David Cameron predicted Thursday the Twins would sign reliever Joakim Soria to a 3-year/$21 million contract.

• Adam Brett Walker is also having a big AFL showing, batting .283/.389/.609 with four home runs in 12 games. Ryan was in Arizona earlier and saw ABW hit a “monster” home run. He adds Walker is putting together decent at-bats, too.

“He has better raw power than Sano,” Ryan said.

Where the two power hitters split is defensively and their overall hit tool. Walker is not as advanced at the plate, and is struggling throwing the ball from the outfield. Ryan, though, isn’t ready to tag him as a full-time DH either.

“He’s not an accomplished hitter by any stretch, but he’s getting better,” Ryan added. “This guy can run. He’s not a good fielder, and he’s certainly having trouble throwing.”

ABW is eligible for roster this year, and Ryan said he’s worth waiting on.

• Catching prospects Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver, both in the AFL this year, are looking “fine,” Ryan said. Turner is more advanced defensively, while Garver holds the better bat. Ryan noted Turner is ahead of Garver because he played in Double-A last season.

“Both will ultimately get up here…not down the line too much further,” he added, declining to say who he thought would sure up their weak side first.

Catching is a must-have upgrade for the Twins in 2016 after Kurt Suzuki failed to repeat his 2014 success. Minnesota could eye Matt Wieters or A.J. Pierzynski in free agency.

• In terms of roster space, Ryan said the team is down about as far as they want to go, but said he can clear out room if needed.

• Left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers is also impressing in the AFL.