The Twins have optioned struggling third baseman Miguel Sano, the club announced and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to report on Twitter. Outfielder Jake Cave will also go down on optional assignment with the team preparing to activate Joe Mauer.
Sano, 25, has long been seen as a premium talent and had been a high-quality big-league hitter through his first three seasons in the majors. Despite ongoing questions about his propensity to strike out and generally subpar work in the field and on the bases, Sano entered the year as an important part of the Twins lineup.
Unfortunately, the results have been brutal thus far in 2018, particularly since Sano returned from a DL stint. In 73 plate appearances since being activated, Sano has racked up thirty strikeouts while recording only a pair of walks and a .191/.247/.353 overall batting line.
Given the severity of his struggles, Sano isn’t just going to be heading to the team’s top affiliate. Rather, he’ll report to High-A Fort Myers. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey explains, via Miller (on Twitter), that the organization “wanted to take a step back and blank-canvas this” and saw the team’s Spring Training home as “the most supportive environment” for Sano.
Sano surely still holds a place in the team’s future plans at the moment. After all, he was coming off of an All-Star appearance in 2017 and at times has looked like one of the game’s more fearsome power hitters. He has not expressed any intransigence in the wake of the move, instead telling reporters (again, via Miller on Twitter) that he’s “happy” to go down and rebuild himself at the plate.
There are several interesting dimensions to this move, of course, but it doesn’t seem that Sano’s contractual status will be a source of any real intrigue for the time being. He entered the year with 2.095 years of service to his credit, leaving 77 to go before he’d top three full years of service and thus qualify for arbitration. Sano recently cleared that bar, so there won’t be any question as to whether the Twins ought to hold him down and keep him from reaching the arb process.