The Minnesota Twins have had a tumultuous time with one of their cornerstone young players Miguel Sano, and now it is time to prepare for life without him.
The Minnesota Twins 2018 season was disappointing in many regards. Coming off of a season in 2017 where the team seemed to take several steps forwards resulting in a playoff appearance, it looked like all things were heading in the right direction. Especially the development of the Twins two cornerstone prospects, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.
Both Sano and Buxton battled through some physical injuries as well as what looked like some mental battles especially when it came to their approaches at the plate. Thankfully, even though he spent the remainder of his season at Triple-A Rochester, Buxton seems to have regained some resemblance of a major league player by the end of the season. At the very least, Buxton will be able to return as an elite defender in 2019 for the Twins.
Regarding Sano, if we go back to the first half of 2017, he carried the Twins offensively through those early months just like a star player should. At the conclusion of that first half of play, Sano held a .276/.368/.538 slash line, .906 OPS, and had launched 21 home runs. Those numbers earned Sano an All-Star selection and a spot in the Home Run Derby where he lost to Aaron Judge in the final round of competition.
The second half of 2017 in which Sano’s production dropped to a .236/.312/.431 slash line was the start to what has been a painful fall to watch for Twins fans. That drop was contributed to greatly by Sano injuring his leg, but as we saw moving into 2018 there was more going on with Sano than just a leg injury. Due to that, we now sit looking towards 2019 not knowing what the Twins have in Sano.
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That is why it seems the club really needs to take this offseason and position itself in a way that they do not need to rely on Sano’s production to be competitve in 2019. That doesn’t mean give up on him and ship him off somewhere else. He still has far too much value in his potential to do that quite yet. The Twins should be finding ways to sign or trade for players so that they are not relying on the likes of Ehire Adrianza or Willians Astudillo to carry the load if Sano can’t perform once again.
That leaves the Twins needing to sign or acquire players to help cover third base, first base, and designated hitter. Free Agents like Marwin Gonzalez who has extreme positional flexibility and Jed Lowrie are two attractive names that could help the Twins. Both can cover third base if Sano doesn’t hit or simply needs to be moved to first base or DH full time.
Ultimately, the Twins likely need Sano to make a deep postseason run. They need the Sano that has been advertised to us all these years as he came up through the minor leagues. Thankfully, there are a few players available in this free agent period that could help the Twins if Sano is absent again for any or an extended period of time like he was in 2018. At this point in Sano’s career and the Twins team trajectory it is time to prepare for 2019 in a way that still makes a postseason run possible, with or without Sano.