Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey has a big winter in front of him. Two years after taking over the baseball arm of the organization, Falvey has a hand-picked manager in place, a team in need of additions, and plenty of currency to make additions to the club on the field.
This could be the time to be bold.
Falvey often talks about being open-minded. His new manager Rocco Baldelli espoused that same virtue in an introductory press conference to kick off this pivotal winter for the franchise. And in a radio interview on 1500ESPN last week, Falvey again showed he’s open-minded to possibilities that might be unpopular, but could also help the Twins take a step forward in 2019.
He said that if the Twins find a good fit at third base in the market this winter, they’d be open to moving Miguel Sano to first base. Ditto for Jorge Polanco, from a shortstop to second base.
“We know we need two infielders,” Falvey said in a radio interview on 1500ESPN. “We’ve been thoughtful about where guys slot. That could [include] some movement around our current infield – we’re not ruling anything out at this point.”
Does that mean you’d be willing to move Polanco and Sano off their current positions?
“I think that’s exactly right. We wouldn’t rule anything out,” he said.
“The way we have it structured now: Jorge is our everyday shortstop, and Miguel, we have every expectation will be there at third. But if the right opportunity presents, we never want to rule out something that could potentially allow us to shift a guy [to a new position],” Falvey said. “If we find the perfect third-base fit for us over some period of time, does that open up a conversation with Miguel on the other side? I would say those are things we’re always thinking about.”
It’s a natural winter to have the discussion.
Polanco has long thought to be less than a Gold Glover at shortstop. As he rose through the minor leagues, the feeling in the organization was split on whether he would stay at shortstop or eventually need to move the other side of the infield. Brian Dozier was an all-star-caliber player on a 4-year contract, though, so what could you really do?
Now, Dozier is gone and Polanco is coming off a decent half-season at the plate (after sitting out the first half of the year for testing positive for a drug that enhances athletic performance).
Sano, for his part, has been at a proverbial crossroad multiple times in his young career. He’s 25 years old, and he has yet to play a full season in the big leagues since he debuted in early July of 2015. That year he burst onto the scene with a daunting combination of patience and power; the rookie hit .269/.385/.530 and hit 18 home runs, with an approach at the plate that made the slugger look advanced beyond his years.
But along the way there have been persistent questions about his conditioning, durability and more recently his offensive capabilities. Injuries helped wreck his 2018 season, in which a guy once presumed to be a franchise cornerstone instead hit .199/.281/.398.
That offensive performance wouldn’t look good at third base or first base. And yet, if you watched him take the league by storm in 2015, it’s hard to shake the thought that there’s still a star slugger ready to emerge at any time now. Some corners of the team’s fan base are hopeful that a move to a less demanding position would alleviate some concerns over his body, and free him up to be a masher.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that either player will switch this winter. It’s worth noting, though, that if the Twins can find a way to upgrade the roster now and in the future, Derek Falvey is open to having the conversation.