It is fairly common knowledge to baseball fans that the Minnesota Twins will need to add an infielder or two this winter. The focus has mostly been on first basemen, such as C.J. Cron and Paul Goldschmidt, or middle infielders such as Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu, but I think they have another pressing position of need.
Third base for the Twins could be covered by Miguel Sano in the immediate future, or it could be a glaring hole, with absolutely no options available to fill in. Let’s get this out of the way first: Miguel Sano still has the potential to be a superstar third baseman. That being said, I don’t think he is someone the Twins should count on this season, and they better put a back-up plan in place.
Right now the Twin’s roster contains exactly four guys with MLB experience at third base. Besides Miguel Sano, Ehire Adrianza has the most experience at the hot corner, and he has only 48 MLB appearances at the position. Jorge Polanco has nine, and Willians Astudillo has only six. One of those guys could be a viable long-term back-up plan at third, but it’s hard to say that any of them are at this time. Astudillo, as a catcher, comes from a position with greater depth, but if Adrianza or Polanco were to move to third, it would open other infield holes.
To make matters worse, the official Twins depth chart doesn’t even list Sano as an option at third base, placing him as the third-string option at first base, and Willians Astudillo as the starting third baseman, backed up by Adrianza. Clearly this cannot be a tenable plan to enter spring training. The team is still saying they are committed to keeping Sano at third, but that depth chart does introduce some doubt into my mind. Could they have some inside information suggesting that Sano will not be their starting third baseman? With a new manager, perhaps they see his future at another position such as first base or designated hitter.
Sano’s career high games-played at third base is 82, in 2017; before injuries ended that season. He played 42 games at the position in 2016, after the right field experiment was brought to a merciful conclusion, and 56 games at third in his highly disappointing 2018 season. In total, he only has 249 MLB appearances at third, or roughly a season-and-a-half, so it may be too early to end his career at the hot corner, but the Twins also need to consider that possibility. Even if he is the starter, the odds dictate they will need a reliable player behind him on the depth chart.
Sano has also never made it through an entire season without injury, so the back-up third baseman will likely see some significant time even if Sano sticks at third. While the most notable injury is the shin issue caused by a foul ball in August 2017, and the subsequent surgery to implant a titanium rod, there have been several other issues. The other potential reason Sano could miss time is even more disheartening. Without delving too deeply into the issue, there have been past accusations of inappropriate conduct. If a new, credible accusation were to surface from his past — even if Sano is currently squeaky-clean — the MLB could suspend him for a fairly lengthy period of time. I’m a big proponent of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, in this case.
Obviously in this scenario, the Twins probably aren’t going to go for Mike Moustakas, or any of the other top third basemen; but there are some decent options available for cheap. Trevor Plouffe struggled mightily in 2017, but did see time playing for the Rays, so not only is the Twins organization familiar with him, but new manager Rocco Baldelli also has worked with him. Plouffe hit alright in a tiny sample size of big league play in 2018, and could probably be signed for incredibly cheap. Would a reunion make sense on a minor league deal?
Mark Reynolds is a couple years older than Plouffe, and may be a tad more expensive, but the market for mid-thirties infielders is slim, so he may be affordable as well. Reynolds performed adequately in part-time duties for Washington this past season, and appeared at several positions, becoming a bit of a utilityman.
The more likely option, however, is that the Twins add another player in the mold of Eduardo Escobar, who can play several positions. In fact, I’d look at another Escobar as an example of this. Former Royal Alcides Escobar played 104 games at shortstop and 29 at third in 2018, playing a total of five positions. Would he provide an adequate insurance policy?
What would you do if you were the Twin’s GM? Would you trust Sano and Astudillo to get the job done at third base, or would you add another option? Which players catch your attention the most, if you do want to add one?
Should the Twins add another third baseman for 2019?
This poll is closed
They should bring Joe Mauer back