Fans of the Minnesota Twins got a surprise on Monday night when it was revealed that the team was going to be trading Jorge Polanco to Seattle in exchange for four players, including top 100 prospect Gabriel Gonzalez. Polanco has been a cornerstone of the Twins' roster for so long, it is hard to imagine that Minnesota will take the field this season without him.
There is no denying that Polanco played a crucial role in the Twins' success in recent years, but the reality is that injuries the last couple of years had turned him into a shadow of his former self. He was only able to play in 184 games combined in 2022 and 2023, and while his offensive production was still there when he did play, he clearly had lost a step defensively. Given all of the infield talent Minnesota has both in the big leagues and coming from the minors, it was just time.
What matters now is how the Twins follow up the move. Spring training is just a couple weeks away, and while this offseason has moved at the speed of smell, time is running out to make moves, especially with free agent options dwindling with each passing day.
Here are the moves we could see the Twins make following the Polanco trade
As much as Twins faithful may hope that the Polanco trade is going to signal a massive shift and the team is going to go out and make a big splash right before the season, that is very unlikely. Most of the big names left on the free agent market are Boras clients looking to get obscene paydays and the Twins just don't have the payroll to make a move like that happen even if they thought those guys were worth it.
What the Twins CAN do, however, is set themselves up for the future as well as bring in some stop-gap solutions to the holes in their roster. The return for Polanco, especially Gabriel Gonzalez, helps Minnesota's long-term outlook a lot, but there is still work to be done to make trading away an icon like Polanco worthwhile.
It is time for the Twins to call up Brooks Lee
With Polanco headed to Seattle, the Twins' infield situation has become a bit more clear. Carlos Correa will almost assuredly be the team's shortstop, Royce Lewis will probably be at the hot corner, and Edouard Julien is going to be in the mix somewhere. One easy way to take the sting out of losing Polanco would be to rip the band-aid off and call up top prospect Brooks Lee.
Ever since the Twins picked Lee with the eighth overall selection in the 2022 draft, he has made the Twins look smart to snatch him up when they did. Lee posted an .839 OPS in his pro debut and quickly made his way to Triple-A last season, thanks to his excellent bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate. Given his rapid rise through the minor leagues, many already expected him to make his major league debut sometime in 2024 even before the Polanco trade.
Curiously, general manager Thad Levine gave an update on the Twins' plans regarding Lee just a couple of days ago. The original plan was for Lee to start him in Triple-A this season and essentially let him tell the team when he was ready for a call-up. With Polanco gone now, Minnesota can bring Lee up immediately to play second or third, move one of Lewis or Julien over to first base, and field one of the most talented infields in baseball in 2024. All of this is contingent on Lee having a good spring training, but bringing him up makes too much sense now.