Miguel Sano’s breakout rookie year in 2015 turned heads, and now he’ll be able to do so on defense and offense. The club’s recent decision to move him into an outfield role (due to an infield logjam) tasked Sano with some rigorous work this winter: get into shape to be an everyday outfielder. If this works out, the Twins will look smart for suggesting he make the move…although the early periods of this transition will most likely have some growing pains as he acclimates to a new role on the team.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
Get used to the ‘new’ Joe Mauer
Though it’d be nice to see Joe Mauer return to the .300 hitter he was earlier in his career, that ship has probably sailed. His .265/.338/.380 line in 2015 was far below his career average of .313/.394/.451, and the .265 was the lowest single-season batting average he’s had thus far in his 12-year career. On the plus side, Mauer was healthy enough to play in 158 games in 2015, the most games he’d managed yet in any year of his career. If he can get that average up a bit in 2016 it’d be a welcomed development for the Twins.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
No more hiccups for Santana
The first season of Ervin Santana’s, four-year, $55 million deal was delayed after Santana was suspended 80 games for PED use. He wound up pitching pretty well for the Twins once the suspension ran its course, going 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 starts (and throwing 108 innings of work in that span). Clearly, as indicated by the financial commitment they made to Santana, the Twins expect to be able to rely on him as a consistent starting pitcher. With that suspension behind him, they’re surely hoping he won’t have any more off-field issues for the remainder of his contract.
Ride the momentum of 2015 into 2016
Some around the league seemed confused or surprised the Twins stayed in the postseason picture until the regular season’s final weekend…but they did. Manager Paul Molitor seemed to make a big difference in his first season in Minnesota, and the AL Central’s openness (not to mention the dual Wild Card system) provides plenty of hope for the Twins to take the next step in 2016.
Carlos Osorio/Associated PressCarlos Osorio
Give Park a solid atmosphere for his MLB career
Since agreeing with the Twins on a four-year deal this winter, Korean slugger Byung-Ho Park expressed a desire to do whatever it takes to fit in with his new employers. If he does, and if he’s able to adjust to MLB pitching and become a productive cog in the offense, it’ll really make the signing look like a smart move in retrospect.