The Twins announced to reporters today, including Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, that Miguel Sano has been transferred to the 60-day injured list after they “found something” on the MRI on his knee. His roster spot went to Jake Cave, who was selected to the big league club. The Twins also designated Aaron Sanchez for assignment, per Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com, whose roster spot when to the recently-acquired Michael Fulmer. In a third pair of transactions, Jharel Cotton was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Jorge Lopez, acquired in an earlier trade, per Dan Hayes of The Athletic.
Sano, 29, has been a fearsome slugger in the Minnesota lineup since his debut in 2015. He has 162 home runs and a career batting line of .234/.326/.382, wRC+ of 115. However, this year has gone about as poorly as could have been imagined, as Sano began the year with a .093/.231/.148 line through 17 games before suffering a knee injury. He recently returned from a lengthy stretch on the injured list, getting into three more games before landing back on the IL again July 30. He will now be unable to return until 60 days from that date, which would be late September, raising the possibility that his season could be done.
If that’s the case, that could end his time with Minnesota. As part of an extension signed prior to the 2020 campaign, the Twins hold a $14MM option over his services for 2023 with a $2.75MM buyout. Based on his lost season and the Twins getting quality first base production from Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez, they might just opt for the buyout.
As for Cave, 29, he was outrighted at the end of the last season but has been mashing in Triple-A this year. In 84 games on the season, he has 14 homers and a batting line of .273/.370/.509, wRC+ of 131. With Byron Buxton nursing a minor injury, Cave will compete with Nick Gordon, Kyle Garlick and Mark Contreras for playing time on the grass.
As for Sanchez, 30, he was selected to the roster just yesterday to make a spot start and has quickly been dispatched. With the Twins acquiring Tyler Mahle today, the rotation is back to full strength, featuring Mahle, Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. Sanchez also made seven starts for the Nationals earlier this year before getting DFA’d, clearing waivers, electing free agency and signing a minor league deal with the Twins. Should he clear waivers again, he would have the right to elect free agency once more.
As for Cotton, 30, he’s bounced on and off the Twins’ roster all season, with this being his third DFA of the year. In each of the previous two instances, he cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to the minors. In 35 MLB innings this year, he has a very nice 2.83 ERA, but without the underlying numbers to back it up. His 29.5% ground ball rate, 21.5% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate are all worse than league average. As such, all of the advanced pitching metrics feel he deserves worse than that ERA.