Minnesota Twins: Why trading Miguel Sano would be an awful idea
By Chris Schad
The Minnesota Twins would love to land Noah Syndergaard from the Mets, but trading the promising third baseman isn’t the way to get it done.
As the Minnesota Twins have seen their lead in the American League Central slip, many Twins fans have looked for scapegoats as the team seemingly headed south. Although the bullpen has taken the brunt of the angst, there’s also a small contingent of Twins fans that have seen enough of Miguel Sano.
For the first 31 games of the season, Twins fans had a right to be upset. After spending the first month and a half recovering from a mysterious cut on his heel, Sano hit just .195 with nine home runs and 18 RBI. While the stats were bad, the third baseman that Twins fans had expected to rise to superstardom after his first All-Star appearance in 2017 looked lost at the plate and almost unsure of which pitches to swing at.
This came off the heels of a disappointing 2018 season in which Sano didn’t get much of an offseason program because of a titanium rod that was inserted into his leg. That derailed any hope of building off momentum as Sano hit just .199/.281/.398 with 18 HR and 37 RBI while also being sent all the way down to High-A Fort Myers to get back into playing shape midway through the year.
That long stretch between Sano’s All-Star form in the first half of 2017 and the beginning of this year had Twins fans ready to send him out of town despite turning things around in recent weeks. As reports surfaced on Sunday night that the New York Mets were looking for MLB talent in exchange for pitcher Noah Syndergaard, Twins fans were eager to serve Sano up as a sacrifice to acquire the hammer of Thor for their starting rotation.
Allow me to be the first to say that this would be a terrible idea.
Sano did struggle mightily at the plate to begin the year, but that was coming off about a year and a half period of intermittently seeing major league pitching. Since seeing his average plummet to .195 on June 27, Sano has been on a tear in his past 25 games slashing .321/.412/.714 with 9 HR and 22 RBI.
What’s even more encouraging about this stretch is that he’s leaving his numbers from last year in the dust. While Twins fans would love to see a little more in the average department (Sano is hitting .248 for the season), he’s seen a jump back to normal levels in his on-base percentage (.335) and OPS (.914) while also setting a career-high in slugging percentage (.579).
If this season’s stats aren’t enough for you, maybe a historical context will. Baseball Prospectus’ Aaron Gleeman took a deep dive on Twitter into Sano’s slugging percentage in 2019 and it would check out as the highest slugging percentage by a 26-year old third baseman in MLB history behind Nolan Arenado‘s .586 mark in 2017. He also pointed out that Sano’s career slugging percentage of .490 would rank second in Twins history behind Harmon Killebrew.
For more context, the Twins once dumped a 26-year old by the name David Ortiz after the 2002 season despite posting a .266/.348/.461 in Minnesota over his first six seasons in the league. The Twins decided that wasn’t good enough and released Ortiz over the winter and after 14 seasons and three World Series championships, he now has bridges and giant lego statues in his likeness among the streets of Boston.
Still, fans want more from Sano and would gleefully serve him up to the Mets in a Syndergaard deal. According to a poll on Puckett’s Pond’s Twitter page on Monday morning, 55 percent would take a Sano for Syndergaard trade if that’s what it took to get the deal done.
For a franchise that possibly sabotaged any deep playoff run by dumping Big Papi in the same year their last playoff series victory came in, trading Sano would be a similar knee-jerk move that could haunt the Twins well after he’s gone.