In Miguel Sano, the Minnesota Twins have one of the most promising young players in the game. Though he’s primarily known for his offense, the Twins believe he has the potential to do even more. Out of 80 games in his rookie year in 2015, Sano started at DH in 69 of them, and yet the Twins are considering moving him to a spot in the outfield.
The reasoning is this, as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger laid out: the Twins have a bit of a logistical issue at first base, especially if they sign Korean slugger Byung Ho Park. If that happens, Park, Sano, Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer would create a ‘four players for two positions’ issue regarding first and third base (as Sano spent some time at first base in 2015 too). That the Twins have the opportunity to move Sano to the outfield, by the way, is partly a result of the trade that sent Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees last week.
Within that context, Minnesota GM Terry Ryan was quoted by Bollinger as saying that Sano will begin testing his skills in both left and right field in the Dominican Winter League and Spring Training, as the Twins weigh their options:
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“He would be a corner,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “We haven't quite decided which it's going to be yet. But he's athletic enough, and he can really throw, and he can run enough that there shouldn't be too many obstacles here with him having the ability to make the transition. It's always a risk, but we think he can do that.”
The 6’4" Sano would be one of the most imposing presences in the outfield in the entire league, but if he acclimated well to the situation and showed the club he’d be able to be a serviceable outfielder, it’d help solve their roster puzzle.
Manager Paul Molitor admitted that Sano in the outfield is definitely a work in progress, something he witnessed when the slugger did drills in batting practice last season:
“He was out there a lot,” Molitor said. “You saw a lot of tentativeness around the wall and things like that. He can catch the ball in the air, but it's just a matter of learning to read the ball and where to play. Situations are a lot of different in the outfield. I don't know if it's going to work or if he'll ever see one inning out there. But I think we have to at least keep that open as a potential option.”
In his rookie campaign, Sano hit 18 home runs and drove in 52 RBI while posting a WAR of 2.1 for Minnesota.