Sano gets work visa after signing with Twins for $3.15 million

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Lost in the Twins’ late-season turnaround, dramatic Game 163 victory, and quick playoff exit is that they made a significant international signing, handing a $3.15 million bonus to a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Miguel Angel Sano.
Considered by many to be the best international prospect available this year and one of the most advanced hitters to come out of the Dominican Republic in a long time, Sano saw multiple teams end their pursuit once MLB was unable to confirm his age.
Instead of signing along with the rest of this season’s top international prospects in July he waited until late September, choosing the Twins over the Pirates and several other teams. While he ended up with less money than initially expected, the $3.15 million bonus is the second-highest ever given to a Latin American prospect (Cuban defectors excluded) and by far the most Minnesota has ever spent on the international market.
Sano’s contract was contingent upon his receiving a work visa, which some feared would be a major hurdle given the questions surrounding his age, but the government officially issued him one yesterday. Of course, even if everything continues to go smoothly on and off the field he’s obviously a long way from the majors. That risk and a delayed payoff is why investing in international prospects requires a team with some gamble in them.
However, the consensus is that Sano has almost limitless upside offensively, so much so that no one seems to care that he has little shot of sticking at shortstop (or even third base). He’s already 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, which obviously led to the doubts about his age, but even if Sano is actually 18 or 19 the signing is something that Twins fans should be absolutely thrilled about. Had he been eligible for the draft Sano almost surely would’ve been a first-round pick and perhaps a top-10 selection.
There’s a pretty decent chance that he never ends up making an impact for the Twins, because that’s just how baseball prospects work, but in terms of increasing their likelihood of developing star-caliber players and building championship-caliber teams the Sano signing is a big step in the right direction for a franchise that has generally been risk-averse. And while the $3.15 million bonus is massive in the context of prospect signing bonuses, it’s still less than Nick Punto made this season.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.