Several teams are gambling on successful position changes for core players, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. While it’s not uncommon for a team to sign a player like Jason Heyward and shift him to a new position for a couple seasons, these transitions don’t always go swimmingly. Sherman examines some of the biggest names to watch this season, and we’ll touch upon a few of them here.
- The Mets were wary about committing to Yoenis Cespedes in part because of his shaky history in center field. As Sherman writes, Cespedes’ top defensive attribute is his arm. However, in center, range tends to be more valuable than arm strength.
- Last season, the Padres attempted to shift Wil Myers from an outfield corner to center. His experience could serve as a chilling example for Mets fans. When he wasn’t battling injury, Myers graded out as an atrocious center fielder. This season, San Diego plans to shift Myers to first base. It’s yet another position at which he has limited experience. Interestingly, Myers has moved all over the field in his professional career – he started out as a catching prospect, and he also has experience at third base.
- Another failed outfielder moving to first base, Hanley Ramirez, will be critical to the Red Sox success this season. Ramirez was a disaster in left field, but there is hope he can be more focused and healthier in an infield role. David Ortiz occupies the designated hitter role. He’s expected to retire after the season, meaning Ramirez could be shifted to a bat-only role after 2016.
- The Yankees are taking a gamble of their own on Starlin Castro. The former Cubs shortstop hit much better after a shift to second base, but his defense still graded out as below average. Unlike Cespedes, Myers, or Ramirez, Castro looked merely below average rather than nightmarish. The Yankees hope that more experience at the position and smoother actions can lead to defensive improvement in 2016.
- In an attempt to manage their corner infield and designated hitter surplus, the Twins are going to try prospect slugger Miguel Sano in the outfield. Sano, a third baseman by trade, doesn’t have professional experience in the outfield. However, his shift will allow the club to start Sano, Joe Mauer, Byung-ho Park, and Trevor Plouffe. In my opinion, the Twins might have been smarter to move Plouffe into the outfield. He has experience as a utility man and an established bat. Sano will now need to learn a new position while adjusting to major league pitching.