The Twins announced that the outfielder Max Kepler and first baseman Miguel Sano were placed on the 10-day disabled list. Kepler has a broken toe, while Sano suffers from an inflamed left knee. In corresponding movements, flyer Marc Contreras was called up from Triple-A and the Twins selected the infielder contract Tim Beckham of Triple-A, while Bailey Ober was moved to the IL 60 days to create a 40-man roster spot for Beckham.
Kepler hasn’t played since being hit by a pitch on July 24, and his IL placement is retroactive to July 27. Although he hasn’t been on the field, Kepler has participated in limited baseball and even drills, so it’s possible he’ll only miss the 10 day minimum if he continues to show good progress (or if the fracture doesn’t continue to limit his ability to run).
It was a curious year for Kepler, who hit .244/.344/.390 in 337 board appearances, good for an above-average 113 wRC+. However, between a host of excellent Statcast metrics and a .361 xwOBA, Kepler is actually underperforming what it “should” be achieving based on its advanced numbers. For the third straight season, opponents are rolling out changes against Kepler almost every time he comes to the plate, which has largely neutralized much of Kepler’s hard contact.
Still, Kepler has been a very productive player overall, between his consistently strong batting numbers and excellent right-field glove. His absence will further hamper a Minnesota outfield who has already been shorthanded by Byron BuxtonBuxton’s ongoing knee issues, as Buxton got plenty of DH time rather than his usual spot in center field. Left-handed hitter Contreras will fill Kepler’s role to some extent, as the Twins will now juggle Buxton, Nick Gordon, Alex Kiriloff and reserve Contreras, Gilberto Celestinoand Kyle Garlic around the three outfield points.
Sano has only just been activated from IL 60 days earlier this week, making it troubling that he has already been sidelined again by issues with his surgically repaired knee. His last injury actually happened when Sano was in minor league rehabilitation, as manager of the Twins. Rocco Baldelli told reporters (including MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park) that Sano injured his knee while slipping in his last rehabilitation match. An MRI is scheduled for Sano on Monday.
Sano underwent surgery in early May and has played just 20 games this season, posting a meager .345 OPS on 71 AP. Some thought the Twins could leave Sano entirely given that he now appears to be the odd man on the roster, but this latest IL placement will delay any decision on that front. If Monday’s MRI reveals bad news, it could mark the end of Sano’s 2022 season, and most likely his tenure in Minnesota – the Twins will most likely repurchase (for $2.75 million) their club option of 14 million Sano dollars for the 2023 season.
Beckham signed a minor league deal with the Twins in February, and he could now be in line for his first look at MLB action since 2019. The former first overall pick hasn’t played anywhere this season canceled from the 2020 minor league, and spent all of 2021 organizing the White Sox with their Triple-A affiliate. Beckham has played all over the infield and has also been a left fielder in his career, so he will provide the Twins with some utility depth off the bench.