Minnesota Twins Shortstop Trade Rumors: Hope, Hysteria or Hype?
By Billy Porter
The Minnesota Twins are kicking the tires on possible shortstop replacements. We break down if those rumors are hope, hysteria, or hype for 2021.
In 2020, the Minnesota Twins’ vaunted offense disappointed greatly, forcing the team to rely on the pitching staff. Among the most disappointing players was shortstop Jorge Polanco. Polanco followed up a season where he started for the American League in the All-Star game with a disastrous year and drooping stats across the board.
This has lead to numerous rumors, including one from Ken Rosenthal that connects the Twins to trade targets like Francisco Lindor or Trevor Story. Is that hopeful wishing? Hysterical thinking? Or is it all just the offseason hype train? We break down what to believe in the offseason rumor mill.
Minnesota Twins Hope
Let’s start with the incumbent Jorge Polanco. For the past five years, Polanco has been a very serviceable player at the shortstop position defensively. Yes, Polanco’s arm is not quite up to an elite MLB level, and his numbers aren’t the best in baseball. With that being said, he has worked at it and can make a majority of the throws and plays.
Offensively, last year didn’t go as planned for Polanco. It hardly went well for anyone. While he struggled in 2020, he still was one of the better statistical players on the team, offering the fourth-highest batting average, the most steals, and solid strikeout numbers.
2020 included, Polanco’s bat has been above average for for a middle infield position most of his career. He was an All-Star two seasons ago for a reason. Backed by a career of results, the hope that he can replicate his 2019 season should be a very strong one.
Minnesota Twins Hysteria
A big trade for a high-end shortstop? That’s something Twins fans have been dreaming of for a while. Having a big name addition like Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story or Marcus Semien trade would excite fans and make headlines. But it wouldn’t be easy.
Each of the players listed would add a minimum of $18-20 million a year in salary over Polanco. Lindor especially would require a deal similar to the $300 million dollar pacts signed by Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts. As a small market team, the Twins can’t afford that with the currently constructed roster.
For Semien or Story, it wouldn’t be quite as expensive, but it would still cost a lot more money. With Josh Donaldson manning the hot corner for $23 million a year, another $20 million dollar player would be tough to swallow (especially when you need to spend on free agent pitchers).
Are these guys better than Polanco? Yes. All three of these players put up nice numbers that would slightly outpace Polanco. Are they two times as good as Polanco to make up for the additional salary hit? Probably not.
It would be interesting to see if Polanco would be part of a trade deal or if they opt to keep him as a second baseman and utility man. The Twins could choose to go with Luis Arraez or a prospect as well, but this whole deal seems to be a little bit too much.
Minnesota Twins Hype
As mentioned earlier, this would be a fun trade for the Minnesota Twins to make. Adding an elite player who can bring more media attention to Minnesota would be awesome, and the Twins haven’t had a true superstar since Mauer was in his prime.
Sure it would cost a lot of money, and it would likely cost a pretty penny in prospects and controllable talent, but if the Twins had a real chance to add a superstar, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity like that.
Minnesota Twins Shortstop Rumors: Hope, Hysteria, or Hype?
This whole rumor seems like a bit more hysteria, as more trade rumor hype than actual fact. The Twins need to put their money in the rotation, bullpen and future contracts. There may be a need at shortstop in the near future, especially if Polanco continues to struggle, but of all the Twins’ needs, this seems to be closer to the bottom of the list.
Does a trade like this makes sense when you have Royce Lewis working his way up through the minor leagues and a 2019 All-Star already at the position. What about Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios? Both players will be in their final year of arbitration next year. I’m sure the Twins want to retain both of them and still retain flexibility.
The best move for Twins fans is probably to hope for Polanco to bounce back in 2021 and regain his standing in the organization, as he has the skill and a cheap contract to be a key piece of this infield for a long time. Let’s hope the team makes the right move.