Twins to sign Sano for $3.15M bonus

Updated: September 29, 2009, 7:40 PM ET
By Jorge Arangure Jr. | ESPN The Magazine

Miguel Angel Sano, a Dominican shortstop considered by many as the top free agent teenage prospect in Latin America, will sign with the Minnesota Twins for a $3.15 million bonus, according to Sano's agent Rob Plummer.

Sano's deal is contingent on getting a visa from the U.S. Consulate in the Dominican to play in the United States. Earler this year, Major League Baseball conducted an age investigation -- a prerequisite for every player signed in Latin America -- that confirmed Sano's identity but could not very his exact age. Sano claims to be 16 years old, but there have been rumors in the Dominican Republic that he may be older.

Sano's agent, Rob Plummer, said Tuesday that he expects an agreement to be signed this week.

"I'm very thankful to get this chance to sign with the Twins," Sano told the Associated Press. "I'm going to work very hard to try to get to the majors in two years."

Twins general manager Bill Smith declined comment to AP.

If Sano's contract holds, he will have earned the highest bonus for a player from Latin American -- outside of Cuba -- this year, and he will have received the second highest bonus ever for a Dominican amateur player. Last year, pitcher Michel Ynoa received $4.25 million from the Oakland Athletics.

Sano's deal surpasses the $3.1 million the St. Louis Cardinals gave outfielder Wagner Mateo this year, though the Cardinals recently voided the deal as a result of an eye condition. Mateo's representative Edgar Mercedes has threatened to sue the Cardinals to reclaim the bonus. The Yankees gave catcher Gary Sanchez $3 million, which would fall behind Sano as the second-largest deal this year if the Mateo deal remains voided.

The Pittsburgh Pirates appeared to be Sano's most ardent suitor, but negotiations between the two sides were at a standstill after agent Rob Plummer rejected a $2.6 million offer from the team.

The rumors about Sano's age seem to stem from the fact that his body type appears more advanced than a typical 16 year old. For that reason, many believe that even if Sano is the age he claims to be, he will likely have to play somewhere other than shortstop, perhaps third base or in the outfield. It's likely that Sano won't begin his professional career until next season. Sano would easily be the most heralded Latin American player signed by the Twins.

Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. The Associated Press contributed to this story.