The Twins are heartened by Miguel Sano’s rehab from surgery to insert a titanium rod into his shin, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, but it’s still unlikely that Sano will log 150+ games at third base next season. Minnesota will still rely on Sano at the hot corner, but will rotate him between that position and DH, once again giving Eduardo Escobar reps at third as well. The ability to spell Sano and first baseman Joe Mauer with time at DH is one reason that the Twins aren’t looking to bring in a full-time DH, per Bollinger. “We saw the benefits of cycling guys through that spot last year,” said GM Thad Levine. “We’d like to keep the DH spot a little more fluid than lock somebody into it.” Minnesota, of course, has been linked to Mike Napoli, though he’d presumably open the year as more of a part-time DH against lefties than an everyday option at the position.
Elsewhere in the American League…
- In his latest inbox column, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tackles a number of roster-focused questions pertaining to the Indians. Asked about the possibility of another run at extending Francisco Lindor, Hoynes suggests that over the course of Lindor’s remaining four years of control, the Indians will almost certainly make multiple attempts to extend their control over the young superstar. However, the fact that Lindor already rejected a nine-figure extension offer from Cleveland so early in his career could indicate that he’s likelier to test free agency when he is eligible. Hoynes also notes that left-hander and 2016 postseason hero Ryan Merritt will head to Spring Training out of minor league options and without a clear spot in the rotation. That could make Merritt available in trade (either this winter or in Spring Training) or point to a bullpen role — at least in 2018.
- The Orioles are not abandoning the hope that former outfielder Dariel Alvarez can successfully convert to a right-handed pitcher, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Alvarez, who had Tommy John surgery last April, will be in Orioles minicamp next month, where club officials can get a look at him and better gauge his rehab progress. Kubatko notes that the O’s still believe he can make it to the Majors. Kubatko also writes that there’s somewhat of a split camp, internally, on whether lefty David Hess will ultimately be a starter or reliever in the long run. Hess was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft after tossing 154 1/3 innings of 3.85 ERA ball with 7.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 30.7 percent ground-ball rate. The 24-year-old has been used almost exclusively as a starter to this point in his pro career, and given Baltimore’s utter dearth of rotation options, it seems likely that he’ll at least have the opportunity to continue developing in that capacity.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe looks at the possibilities for the Red Sox as they seek to fill their DH spot. While president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has stated he’s content with the team’s offense as constructed, Abraham calls any such notion a mere “bargaining tactic.” Boston could conceivably add J.D. Martinez and relegate Hanley Ramirez to an overpriced platoon first baseman/bench bat, Abraham notes, and simply releasing him remains a possibility. While forgoing a splashy acquisition for the DH spot would leave more room for Dustin Pedroia to rest his knee and could create some at-bats for out-of-options outfielder Bryce Brentz, Boston has yet to augment a lineup that finished the 2017 season ranked 22nd in the Majors with a 92 wRC+, making the need for some form of upgrade fairly obvious.