Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Now, anyone with a hand up: you're a liar.
Dejan Kovacevik of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a name we've heard often this summer due to trade rumors surrounding guys like Freddy Sanchez and John Grabow, first broke this story yesterday in the late afternoon/early evening. Kovacevik's source was none other than Miguel Angel Sano's agent, Rob Plummer.
Any excitement should currently be tempered with a bit of realistic pause, since a signing of this magnitude outside of the June amateur draft doesn't come along very often. Twins GM Bill Smith has this to say in last night's Strib article by Joe Christensen:
"We're very interested in Miguel Sano, and we are pursuing him aggressively, but we do not have a signed deal."
Naturally that means it's pretty much a done deal. But until it's announced, I'm reserving judgment. Although this quote by Sano himself sounds rather promising:
"I'm very thankful to get this chance to sign with the Twins...I'm going to work very hard to try to get to the majors in two years."
Indeed, Smith wants a "fair assurance" that Sano would be able to play for the Twins before anything happens, but saying something like that at this point sounds more like just the smart thing to say more than it sounds like Smith is hedging his bets. Arranging the talented young infielder a visa, which is never a guarantee but not always the problem it's made out to be, should be the final step in the process.
The deal, which will reportedly be consummated today, carries a $3.15 million signing bonus; second in team history to Joe Mauer ($5.15 million) and second in international signing history to Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Ynoa ($4.25 million).
While the Twins were always interested it was the Pittsburgh Pirates that appeared to be the front-runner for the phenom's services since Sano's name entered the picture late in the spring. Add to that interest from around the league, allegedly from big boys in New York and Boston as well as the medium and smaller market clubs, and
UPDATE 10:44 p.m.:
Huntington, on Sano: "We were aggressive in our attempts to sign Miguel Sano," said last night at Wrigley Field. "We made an aggressive offer on July 2 but were told by the agent that they were not prepared to negotiate at that time. Per our standard practice, we remained in contact with the player and the agent throughout the summer. In an effort to expedite the process, we made a second offer of significantly higher dollars. We were again told by the agent that he was not prepared to commence negotiations, but we left those conversations with a clear understanding that the agent would contact the Pirates when he was prepared to begin negotiations. Miguel Sano has apparently agreed to terms with another organization without his agent engaging the Pirates in legitimate negotiations. While we are disappointed in the process and outcome, we wish Miguel nothing but success in his future." Huntington
Back in June we asked if Sano could become a member of the Twins. It didn't seem likely, but there was always the possibility. Linking to a brilliant scouting report from BP's Kiley McDaniel we listed some bullet points to round-out our knowledge of the Dominican star, and I'll re-use those here.
Some expect Sano to get a signing bonus of $4.5 million dollars. If he doesn't break the record for the largest signing bonus, he'll be right against the line.
Labelled as "special".
Currently a shortstop, but many scouts expect a move to third base as he fills out.
Grades out well offensively.
Power projections fall between good and great, depending on who you read; McDaniel says good raw power to all fields, with improvement as he fills out. It's all about filling out.
Compares to Evan Longoria; in other reports Alex Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez. Comparibles like this are worthless when the prospect is this far away, but color-by-number is a great way to quickly scan what kind of tools these kids have.
There's little doubt that Sano is an incredible talent, whether he's 16 or not. Hopefully we'll find out today whether this is a done deal, and we can move on to full-fledged excitement with Sano immediately becoming the number one prospect in the Twins system and possibly all of baseball. Right now, at this moment, this is a very, very big deal for Minnesota as an organization, and Bill Smith as a general manager.