The Twins noticed quite a lot of kids take important steps ahead in 2023 en path to their first victory in a postseason collection since 2002, and maybe none of these had been extra impactful than the breakouts of Royce Lewis and Edouard Julien. Lengthy a high prospect whose profession had been stalled by accidents, Lewis burst onto the scene in 2023 and slashed an unimaginable .309/.372/.548 with 15 homers and 6 stolen bases in simply 239 journeys to the plate final season whereas taking part in wonderful protection at third base. Julien, in contrast, lacked Lewis’s prospect pedigree however put collectively maybe an much more spectacular rookie marketing campaign. The 24-year-old slashed .263/.381/.459 in 408 journeys to the plate because the membership’s major second baseman in 2023, with an unimaginable 15.7% stroll charge that solely Aaron Judge, Cavan Biggio, Joc Pederson, and Juan Soto managed to eclipse amongst rookie hitters (min. 400 PA) within the twenty first century.
The unimaginable performances from each Lewis and Julien go away the Twins arrange for achievement round within the infield for years to return, significantly if Carlos Correa manages to regain his All Star kind and high prospect Brooks Lee is ready to discover comparable success when he reaches the large leagues, which might occur as quickly as 2024. This extra of infield expertise has left longtime second baseman Jorge Polanco to face quite a lot of uncertainty this offseason. The Twins haven’t been shy about their plans to cut payroll this offseason, and with every of Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, and Tyler Mahle having signed elsewhere this offseason after departing totally free company final month, the membership is going through uncertanity within the rotation.
As such, dealing away the membership’s longest-tenured participant might permit Minnesota to leverage an space of appreciable depth to fill out its pitching workers, whereas additionally saving $10.5MM in wage subsequent season that would probably be used to accumulate much more pitching. That logic satisfied MLBTR readers that Polanco must be dealt according to a poll back in October, the place greater than 56% voted in favor of the Twins dealing Polanco.
Given the clear incentives for the Twins to not less than contemplate a Polanco commerce, it’s hardly a shock that the 30-year-old has garnered trade interest as not too long ago as earlier this month from rival golf equipment. Even because the longtime infielder seems to be on the verge of getting squeezed out of the Twins’ infield combine, Polanco continues to be a high quality on a regular basis participant. Whereas he was restricted to simply 80 video games this previous season as a consequence of accidents, the switch-hitter nonetheless slashed a strong .255/.335/.454 (118 wRC+) whereas splitting time between second base, third base, and DH in 2023. That line is per the numbers Polanco has posted all through his time as an on a regular basis participant within the majors. Since he broke out as an above-average common again in 2019, the infielder has slashed .267/.337/.458 with a wRC+ of 117. That’s good for ninth amongst certified second baseman throughout that point span, simply forward of family names equivalent to Gleyber Torres and Ozzie Albies.
Whereas Polanco doesn’t generate a lot worth together with his glove, usually incomes below-average marks by Outs Above Common and roughly common marks by Defensive Runs Saved, he makes up for it together with his constant, above-average offense and could be a transparent improve for nearly any workforce in want of infield assist forward of the 2024 season. Additional including to Polanco’s worth is his comparatively inexpensive contract scenario. As beforehand talked about, Polanco is due simply $10.5MM in 2024, an quantity nearly all of shopping for golf equipment ought to be capable of abdomen with out a lot difficulty. What’s extra, Polanco shouldn’t be a pure rental because of a $12MM membership choice for 2024 that carries a reasonably modest buyout of $750K.
Taken collectively, Polanco’s switch-hitting bat, offensive consistency, and inexpensive workforce management are certainly an attractive package deal to loads of golf equipment, even despite Polanco’s current damage historical past and lackluster protection. With that stated, which groups are the perfect suits for his companies? The Angels, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Guardians, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Pink Sox, and Yankees all seem roughly set across the infield, whereas the A’s, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers, and White Sox all seem unlikely to spend important cash and prospect capital on a short-term infield answer. That also leaves 9 groups as viable suits for Polanco’s companies, nevertheless. Let’s check out how they match up…
- Blue Jays: The Jays have a transparent want across the infield after dropping Whit Merrifield and Matt Chapman to free company, even after including Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The membership additionally not too long ago misplaced their major supply of left-handed offense because of the departure of Brandon Belt. Polanco might assist alleviate each of these points as a switch-hitter who might add some pop to the lineup from the left facet whereas slotting in because the membership’s on a regular basis second baseman, with the likes of Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, and Santiago Espinal left to compete for the third base job alongside Kiner-Falefa. In the meantime, mercurial right-hander Alek Manoah might certainly entice the Twins as a possible return given his important upside and the power of depth starter Louie Varland to step into the rotation ought to Manoah battle to regain the shape he confirmed in 2022, when he was a finalist for the AL Cy Younger award.
- Cubs: Few groups received worse manufacturing from their third base corps in 2023 than the Cubs, who wanted to plug the outlet by buying and selling for Jeimer Candelario on the commerce deadline final summer time. With Candelario now suiting up for Cincinnati, the Cubs are as soon as once more left with a gap at third base and a dearth of left-handed pop of their lineup. The addition of Polanco might tackle each of these considerations; whereas the veteran infielder has primarily performed second base throughout his profession, he regarded respectable on the place when protecting for Royce Lewis this previous season and the Cubs had little difficulty changing Nick Madrigal from the keystone to the recent nook final spring. In trade for Polanco’s companies, the Cubs might dangle a younger pitching prospect equivalent to Hayden Wesneski or Ben Brown, each of whom have found themselves in the rumor mill this offseason.
- Mariners: After delivery Eugenio Suarez to Arizona earlier within the winter, the Mariners have loads of room to enhance upon their infield combine. Josh Rojas and Luis Urias are presently slated for on a regular basis roles at second and third base, although the pair are seemingly higher served platooning with one another. That opens the door for an additional infield addition, and Polanco might match the invoice as an on a regular basis participant at both place. Whereas the switch-hitter is unlikely to web the Twins a younger starter like Bryan Woo or Bryce Miller in commerce (not less than by himself), it’s attainable a deal might come collectively centered round a much less confirmed arm like Emerson Hancock.
Subsequent Tier Down:
- Brewers: The Brewers have as important of wants across the infield as any workforce, with little certainty wherever outdoors of Willy Adames. Brice Turang and Andruw Monasterio look like the membership’s present greatest choices at second and third base respectively, however including Polanco would give a major enhance to the membership’s offense whereas taking stress off the aforementioned pair of children. Whereas Milwaukee is pretty much as good of a match as any membership for Polanco’s companies, the current departures of Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser go away the Brewers seemingly unlikely to additional weaken their rotation depth by buying and selling a starter to Minnesota. In the meantime, the membership’s many outfielders seemingly maintain little enchantment for the Twins, who’ve a deep outfield mixture of their very own already.
- Giants: The Giants, not less than on paper, have a reasonably strong infield combine that features J.D. Davis, Thairo Estrada, and Wilmer Flores. With that being stated, the membership has been related to free company’s high infielder in Matt Chapman this winter, and Polanco could possibly be an affordable fallback choice for San Francisco to enhance their offensive manufacturing on the infield filth ought to they fail to land Chapman. The membership additionally has a handful of attention-grabbing younger pitchers like Tristan Beck who they might contemplate dealing, although the membership is seemingly hoping to land a participant with extra star energy than Polanco offers this winter.
- Marlins: The Marlins are seemingly perpetually concerned with buying hitting reinforcements by leveraging their deep group of pitchers, and it seems this offseason isn’t any totally different because the likes of Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo, and Trevor Rogers have all discovered their names within the rumor mill. What’s extra, the edges received collectively on simply this form of deal final offseason, when the Twins landed Pablo Lopez in trade for Luis Arraez. Polanco could be one thing of a tough positional match for the Miami, although they might conceivably transfer Josh Bell to DH and shift Arraez again to first, opening up second base for Polanco.
- Mets: The Mets gave the impression to be content material with their infield combine as not too long ago as earlier this month, when it appeared that Joey Wendle, Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos would compete for taking part in time at third base whereas Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso remained at their traditional positions. That every one modified when Mauricio suffered a torn ACL whereas taking part in winter ball, throwing the membership’s infield plans into chaos. Even so, the Mets and Twins are one thing of an imperfect match as commerce companions. Whereas Polanco’s two years of workforce management seemingly suits New York’s present technique of constructing short-term additions that received’t encumber the workforce within the lengthy haul, Polanco doesn’t provide the standard glove Mauricio did and his switch-hitting bat is probably going much less engaging given the variety of lefty-swinging infielders the Mets have already got at their disposal.
- Pirates: The Pirates evidently need to add a second baseman to their infield combine given their reported interest in a reunion with Adam Frazier, and the addition of Polanco would seemingly transfer the needle way more for the fourth-place membership in 2024 ought to they hope to contend for the NL Central this season. The addition of Polanco would provide some veteran consistency to a younger offense that handled excessive peaks and valleys all through the 2023 marketing campaign, and his 118 wRC+ final 12 months would’ve been the perfect on Pittsburgh’s offense final 12 months. With that being stated, the Pirates nonetheless have a protracted solution to go to catch as much as the remainder of the NL Central in 2024, and their rotation has much more query marks than Minnesota’s, rendering them unlikely to deal away a rotation piece just like the Twins determine to hunt.
- Royals: Trades inside a division are exceptionally uncommon, significantly when each golf equipment are seemingly hoping to contend within the coming season. With that being stated, there’s not less than an on-paper match between the Royals and Twins for a Polanco deal. Kansas Metropolis wants offense even after including Hunter Renfroe in free company earlier this month, and Polanco would signify a large improve over Michael Massey on the keystone. In the meantime, the Royals might provide a package deal centered round a younger arm like Kris Bubic or Alec Marsh who could also be squeezed out of the membership’s rotation combine by the current additions of Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha. It’s additionally value noting that Kansas Metropolis and Minnesota received collectively on a notable commerce as not too long ago as final offseason, when the Royals despatched Michael A. Taylor to the Twins in trade for a pair of reduction prospects.