JANUARY 14: The Minnesota organization has now announced the deal.
JANUARY 10: The Twins have inked third baseman Miguel Sano to a three-year extension, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The deal guarantees Sano $30MM, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). That includes a $3MM buyout on a 2023 option, which is priced at $14MM. Sano is a client of the Cobb Eddy Sports Group.
Sano entered the offseason in the 4+ service class. Rather than a second trip through the arbitration process — he had been projected to take home a $5.9MM contract — Sano will lock in his final two arb-eligible campaigns while giving the Minnesota organization control over two would-be free-agent seasons.
While there’s some upside to be gained for organization, it’s also a notable vote of confidence in the 26-year-old slugger. Long lauded as a major talent, Sano broke into the league in a big way and was generally very productive with the bat over his first three seasons in the majors. But he literally and figuratively limped through a miserable 2018 season. After an offseason of work created a sense of optimism, Sano was then slowed at the start of 2019 due to an Achilles injury. When he finally returned to action last spring, it was far from clear what to expect.
As it turned out, Sano turned in his most productive offensive run since his rookie showing back in 2015. Over 439 plate appearances, he slashed .247/.346/.576 and socked 34 long balls. Statcast figures gave ample cause to buy into the idea that he was back in top form at the plate. Sano led all of baseball in hard contact percentage and graded in elite company in just about all of the batted-ball measures.
There are some negatives, even in the hitting arena. Sano swings and misses quite a bit, even by today’s standards. He has consistently struck out in more than a third of his plate appearances and seems a safe bet to continue to do so. Sano does draw a decent number of walks — about a dozen per hundred plate appearances historically and in 2019 — but isn’t as dramatically good in that regard as he is dramatically woeful in terms of strikeouts. Perhaps there’s still some reason to hope he can make strides in the plate-discipline arena, since Sano obviously has an eye and must be pitched carefully. But as things stand, he’s dependent upon sustaining a strong batting average on balls in play to prop up his on-base numbers. So long as he’s stinging the ball, that’ll likely work out well enough, but it’d be nice to see some closing of the yawning gap between his strikeout and walk rates.
Supposing that the Twins think Sano can repeat or even expand upon his offensive output of 2019, that’s a heck of a starting point. His 137 wRC+ matched that of Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien, making them the next two players out of the top twenty slots leaguewide among players with at least 400 plate appearances. Of course, Semien produced nearly three times as much fWAR as Sano due to the variety of factors that limit the latter’s value.
First and foremost is the question of glovework. Sano has a huge arm but isn’t exactly the most mobile of players with his massive frame. He has at times graded out between slightly below average and very poor in terms of overall defensive performance at third, by measure of Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. Both were down on his work last year, especially UZR. But Statcast’s newly devised defensive grading system isn’t quite so negative, marking Sano as a below-average but hardly disastrous performer at the hot corner.
Even if you take a somewhat more optimistic view of things, it seems safe to say Sano isn’t likely to be more than a palatable defender at third over the life of this contract. And with his big frame and durability concerns, there’s risk he won’t even be that. Of course, it’s still possible that he could shift across the diamond — as soon as 2020, if the Twins land Josh Donaldson — and the DH slot will open up at some point if and when Nelson Cruz retires or heads elsewhere. None of that will resolve Sano’s longstanding woes on the basepaths, where he’s a consistent negative, though Statcast does indicate that Sano was once rather speedy and is still in range of average in average sprint velocity.
Ultimately, the Twins don’t need Sano to be a true superstar for this deal to work out. Picking up control over two of Sano’s potential prime hitting seasons delivers plenty of value upside. And while there are some downside scenarios, the overall guarantee just isn’t great enough to carry significant risk even to a lower-payroll outfit.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
nick effing punto
Huge. This guy can hit. Team friendly deal that keeps that horse in the 5 hole for another 4 years.
Nick effing sounds like you got a beat on the contract what is it?
How do we know if it’s team friendly or not? Financials haven’t been released yet.
And yet Sano still likely came out way ahead..,
That’s a positive- I think – I hope
Just made him tradeable.
Sano and Buxton for Arenado, Blackmon and Davis would be awesome. Sano would be 50 plus dinger man in Colorado.
Why in the hell would we do that? Even if we could be sure that Blackmon and Arenado could maintain their stats outside of Colorado and the National league, their contracts are insane. Arenado alone is owed over $230 million over the next 7 years. Blackmon has 4 years and $70 million left on his contract. Wade Davis is owed $32
million over the next two years.
All other factors aside, those contracts would basically guarantee that the Twins would be out of the running for every big name free agent for years.
But how much?
Three years, $2 million, club option fourth year for $650k.
Yikes 2 million a year seems steep. I’d of topped out at a million.
That’s $2 million total.
The Twins got fleeced!
Boom boom! First exciting news in a long time.
If free agents don’t want to come to MN they might as well lock up their core pieces
More like MN keeps dodging bullets! They can’t afford a few big bad contracts. Most of the long term big money deals look good for a very short time, or never at all. Who would want Harper or Machado contracts today? Donaldson is about to make someone very regretful too.
The Twins get cheap boppers and make us happy.
How’s that working out for ya in retrospect?
Now sign Donaldson so the Braves can trade for Bryant
What are Braves giving up for Bryant?
Camargo , Inciarte & Wilson if it’s 1 year
Riley, Inciarte & Wright if it’s 2 yrs
and three tomahawks
Camargo, Waters, Duvall
What does this means? No Donaldson?
Why would this mean that? He was going to be on the team for the next two years either way.
Sano is going to 1b if Donaldson were signed. You don’t want Marwin Gonzalez as your everyday 1b.
Right, but OP is asking if this Sano extension means ‘no Donaldson?’. I’m saying that it doesn’t have anything to do with Donaldson.
Not with his .735-ish OPS he won’t.
And his 45 homers?
He’s never hit 45hrs or been on pace for 45 single season hrs in his career. Twins fans and websites have been so ridiculously optimistic about Sano. Until last year’s juiced ball he’d never hit even 30 home runs in a season or been on pace for more than 32-35 in a full season with 500-600PA.
Even with the juiced ball last year, his advanced stats were encouraging enough to put him in the upper tier of sluggers in the mlb. Things like exit velocity (2nd) and hard hit rate (1st) were favorable enough to show last year wasnt a fluke, and those are just off the top of my head.
Anybody can have a career year, especially when playing against historically bad divisional opponents. The bottom line is watching Sano revealed the same weakness he’s always had. 2 strikes = slider down and away = strike 3.
With a K rate near 40%, no base running skills and no defensive value, Sano cannot generate consistent value.
If he loses weight and keeps it off (a huge if), he may very well be a great producer; however, now that’s it’s assured he’s moving to 1B / DH, he’s going to have to hit more than ever.
I think this extension was at partly to assure Sano that even though they signed Donaldson that they still see Sano as part of their future.
Makes him easier to trade..
“Shucks, we missed out on donaldson and might as well appropriate those funds into locking up our own future”
Donaldson drama is as old as Harper and Machado of yesteryear but I get his unique position too..
i know im no expert here, but i would nevef extend Sano. uninspiring skillset and doesnt seem like very good work ethic either.
nick effing punto
High OBP guy with great strike zone presence and 50 bomb upside? That is still a good skillset. Plus he plays passable defense at 3rd and could possibly be plus at 1st.
Still some risk.
i dont see 50 if he cant hit 40 on a powerful team in a year where the ball is juiced.
No you’re definitely no expert…..smart signing by MIN. He was barreling the ball and hitting the ball extremely hard last year. He was number 1 in MLB in hard hit percentage.
Hitting the ball hard is an overated stat. Usually guys that have high “hard hit %” are guys that strike out a ton. Hitting the ball hard right at someone is still an out. Hitting the ball hard in the gap becomes a long single, especially with Sano because he runs like he has a refrigerator on his back. With a runners on, hitting the ball hard at an infielder is a sure double play. I would hang my hat on the wRC+ of 137. That better reflects his offensive upside.
Spare Tire Dixon
Who else is Minnesota gonna get though? They need to keep their upside guys
I’m assuming most of the commenters here are not Twins fans because they and the writer of the article don’t know Sano. He’s a future MVP. Cruz is a great influence on him.
Sano can’t play Defense. JD martinez never won an MVP and he’s about as good as it gets from an offensive perspective. I’ll gladly take any bet on Miguel Sano never winning an MVP. He’ll probably be a DH the day Nelson Cruz leaves.
JD Martinez has never won an MVP because he’s a Designated Hitter, same reason why David Ortiz never won one.
And Miguel Sano is a terrible defensive 3B. Unless you have him winning the MVP next season I’m not sure how you think he wins one. I can’t imagine he’s a 3B for more than a season or two. Like I said, whenever Cruz goes I think Sano goes right into that slot.
Cabrera won an MVP playing bad 3B defense. Sano would need triple crown stats to even be in the MVP conversation. AND Sano has that level upside.
Sano has not proven he can contend for a batting title in the Majors, which is why i bring up the work ethic thing. his minors numbers pointed to a great all around hitter, but he has yet to prove he is much more than a power hitter so far.
But batting average just isn’t that important. The goal of every at-bat is to get on base. A strong OBP is much more critical than BA. Sano’s OBP may not look great, but anyone that has an OBP one hundred points higher than his BA is taking some walks for sure. Anyway, I’m just making a general point here.
i didnt really read the article at all to be honest. i think a lot of the generalized opinions of writers on the quality of players arent worth my time anyway. personally i just dont think he really plays well enough in the field or gets on base enough on an average year to justify the power. ill say he’s probably better than i give him credit for, but i dont think he’s a superstar.
Future MVP????? Thanks for the laugh. I was feeling a little gloomy and you brightened my day with one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time. MVP’s don’t have lifetime BA’s of .247. He is, at best, a bad 3B. Plus he strikes out 37% of the time. Now if by MVP you mean Minnesota’s Valuable Player, then maybe, but league MVP is freaking hilarious.
I wonder if they’re working on anyone else
Peralta is the better of the two extensions today
I think the Sano extension makes much more sense.
I like both but the snakes got a plus player for pretty darn cheap
Why were the Twins looking at Donaldson when they have this guy?
Because Donaldson is better now. Sano can play 1B.
That makes sense. Twins would have a seriously nice lineup with JD
Defense….move Sano to 1B.
nick effing punto
Maybe with an arm like his they see him as a two way player. Well…maybe not…
Nice move. He seems to have responded well to coaching changes, and he has a more chiseled physique. He will be a beast at the plate.
Unless if the comment is sarcasm, the Twins tried that already and it didn’t work out well.
They aren’t. It’s lip service to get these twin fans to think they are serious about winning.
Defense to help the pitchers and Donaldson is a man among boys.
I think it was pure optics. The Twins weren’t getting the second tier SP. Donaldson doesn’t want to be in Minnesota. He’s a better all around player than Sano but is on the back side of his career. Sano is an awful defender but has tons of upside and cam be moved to 1B until Cruz retires.
Sano is an “awful defender”. Probably because he’s baloooning to 300+ pounds. His RTOT Total Zone Total Field Runs Above or Below Average was -10 in 2019 and not much better the year before.
He is a big guy.
Now let’s extend Berrios, Buxton, and Rosario.
Yes on the first two but no to Rosario. Love the guy but he’s the most replaceable of their OFers.
Eddie Rosario was the best of the three last year.
They really need to extend Berrios first.
Spare Tire Dixon
Nice job, Twins
Twins have no clue what their doing. Biggest need is pitching and they got nobody then in final running for Donaldson when they have a 3rd basemen then extend sano; their 3rd basemen who’s already good enough to hold down the spot. No direction at all.
Sanó can plat at 1B if Donaldson is signed, and he can DH in 2021.
Les Chesterfield, Sano moves to first if Donaldson is signed which was always highly unilkely. Otherwise he’s the Twins’ thirdbaseman.
So true Les Chesterfield! The @Twins front office is so clueless! I mean, wtf?? What was with that 101 win season?? Total Fup!!
Didn’t expect this.
I guess this is the best way to spend the available funds since they missed out on the higher level SP’s. Berrios is good but he’s no ace.
A contract extension clarifies asset value for any potential trading partners. I wonder if there are any trade restrictions built into the contract. Either way, extensions may actually help initiate trade discussions if MN is looking for more pitching.
Good thought! Trading for pitching make sense.
Usually I read the comments first before sending my response but I don’t care on this one. Bottom line, F*** yes. I want this dude on my World Series team regardless of 3B or 1B. You can have DH after this year when Nellie retires. Or stay and put great numbers up for your position. Forget the haters, Twins just swing ONE trade for a decent SP and it’s you fighting the white Sox. Sorry but Indians are done. Laugh if you want but when you look back don’t laugh at this. Their team is now shot beyond Ramirez and Lindor and good SP… Twins and Sox are pretty much dealing with this for at least 3 years.
You still don’t have the pitching the Indians do and your team had career years at the plate. Talk to me if and when you can beat the Yankees in one game. Twins are an embarrassment in the post season.
Not really a surprise. I dont think they were ever gonna sign josh Donaldson . Unless he was gonna be a DH for the next 3-4 years. He’s still above average fielder.
Now he just needs a bigger chain.
Money thrown away by Twins
Probably will extend who they can, trade who they can’t (or won’t)
Fair deal on both sides. Now they should focus on a Berrios contract. And probably Buxton.
I hope Sano reports to spring training in shape. This has been an issue in the past. No doubt the guy has HUGE power potential and he had his share of clutch hits last season.
It sounds like Donaldson is unlikely and Twins could roll with Marwin Gonzales at 1st next season. I would prefer the Twins focus on finding a trade for a top notch pitcher.
Sano’s best move is probably to DH once Cruz retires.
he’s got a TON of weight to lose. he should be in the 230’s tops and last year he was 290 and change. so he’s 50-60 pounds over weight easy! That’s A LOT for a 20 something year old. When he gets older he could easily balloon to 350 plus. Probably why he signed that deal with Minnesota. A lot of teams are Leary of him because of his massive weight issues.
Yes, I know he hits for a low average and strikes out a lot, but he is an absolute offensive force. So yeah, despite those things many teams would love to have his powerful bat and yes that includes who he plays for.
Twins can save some $$$$ in the after game spread by putting Sano on a diet — this guy cant play 3b – he needs to play 1b or DH which alot of ppl can see — cmon Twins sign JD – and when the Reds fall out of the race and Trevor Bauer goes on the block trade for him
Unfortunately, I don’t see the Reds falling out of the race – they are legit contenders in that division. I say “unfortunately” because I’m a fan of another team in that division. The Reds are pretty good.
Toronto should put Vlad Jr on a diet too
Any chance of a weight clause in the contract?
Glad they kept him around. They gave up too early on David Ortiz.
Upside for organization. This good.
Sano is a ticking time bomb. Now that he has his guaranteed money, there isn’t a lot of incentive for him to remain in condition.
His ideal weight is probably around 230lbs. He can continue to be an asset at 3B up until probably 245lbs, and he can be at least playable at 3B up until 260lbs. After that he can be playable at 1B/DH up until about 280lbs. Over 280, he’s not playable at the MLB level based on everything we’ve seen.. and he’s been 300lbs as recently as 2018. For a guy who’s had severe conditioning and weight issues as young as 22-23 years old, I just don’t see there being a lot of good track record in MLB and there’ve been a few really talented but poorly conditioned players who saw their performance tank suddenly or careers end very early.
This could work out for the Twins, but only if Sano exhibits a willingness to take responsibility. He doesn’t exactly have a good track record that way.
He was 300 lbs last season actually. And Jack Morris called him out on it again.
Well, I think I remember reading the implication he was down to 285lbs when the Twins re-activated him in 2018 and he showed up to Spring Training in 2019 at 275-ish. Jack Morris called him out the beginning of the 2018 season when Sano reportedly showed up at 293lbs and gained weight through the start of the season.
Since Jack Morris didn’t work for the Twins last season (Morris was a color guy for Detroit), it seems doubtful he’d call Sano out without seeing him.
is he 325 lbs. yet? he seems to be gaining about 15-20 pounds each off-season.
I hate to pee on everyone’s Cheerios, but Sano could die of natural causes before this extension is completed. These obese corner infield-types never ultimately work out. He should get some help…
You mean heart attack? He’s what 25 / 26 and 350lbs now? When he first signed with the Twins organization he was 185 ish now he’s almost doubled his weight, literally. Who gains that much weight in their mid 20’s. Almost unheard of unless you are a totally undisciplined junk food fanatic, granted some of that is muscle, but when you look at his pics it’s definitely not all muscle he’s put on.