Grading Twins offseason moves after start of 2024 season

Let’s take a look back at some of the deals the Twins made this winter and how they’ve aged.
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Minnesota Twins fans are no strangers to crushing disappointment, but it hurts even more when it’s an inside job. That was the case this offseason, when the team chased its most successful postseason run since 2002 by slashing payroll and showed a complete lack of seriousness when it came to improving the roster. 

Money and greed were at the heart of it, per usual, but the lack of care the team had for its roster is now rearing its ugly head just two months into the season. A 12-game winning streak proved the team has talent that should have been supplemented better, and the bookended struggles are a reminder of what the team is missing. 

Looking back on the few deals the team did make is a tough hang, even if not everyone of them has aged poorly. 

Grading Twins offseason moves after start of 2024 season

Trading away Jorge Polanco 

It’s hard to defend most of Minnesota’s offseason moves, but this one is particularly tough. Jorge Polanco was always going to get traded due to the backlog of second baseman the Twins have in the system, but it seems like the front office really did lean into the ‘house money’ aspect of trading him. 

Not only did the Twins not trade Polanco for a frontline starter that the team needed — and cruelly teased early in the offseason — it’s starting to look like he wasn’t traded for anything meaningful at all. Justin Topa is out for another six weeks, Anthony DeSlafani was ruled out for the season before Opening Day and Darren Bowen hasn’t made much noise in the minors. Top 100 prospect Gabriel Gonzalez is the best piece of the deal, but he didn’t gain any ground in the latest MLB Pipeline prospect ranking. 

Trading Polanco might have been nothing more than a salary dump at this point, as the team freed up some payroll to use in free agency. That move also hasn’t panned out well, which is making the Polanco trade look like a total bust on Minnesota’s end. 

Grade: D-

Signing Carlos Santana

An appendage to the Polanco trade was using some of the money to sign Carlos Santana. It was the first significant move the team made in free agency, and seemed like a good gamble at the time. Santana had hit a rough patch over the last few years but started to trend hard in the right direction during the second half of last season. 

That’s the guy the Twins thought they were signing, but he’s been a less than helpful part of the lineup. He’s hitting .195/.260/.253 which is a far cry from the production Minnesota needed out of him. Each year the Twins sign a player like Santana, a veteran slugger well past his prime who the team is hoping has some magic left. The bet hasn’t paid off and it’s an extra stinger on the end of another tough offseason move. 

Grade: D-

Signing Jay Jackson

While the Twins’ frugalness bordered on parody this winter, the one place the team did an investment was the bullpen. Injuries have bogged him down but Justin Topa was the main piece of the Polanco trade, and the Twins spent money and resources to add other relievers with Jay Jackson being among the early additions. 

His story was incredible. A 16-year veteran who had bounced all over the league made his first-ever Opening Day roster this year. Everything was there for Jackson to be a cool redemption story, but the journey didn’t last long. 

After a mildly decent start to the season he got eaten alive whenever he was called out of the bullpen and ended up getting DFA’d over the weekend. The Twins didn’t go above and beyond to add Jackson so his flameout isn’t as tough to swallow as other moves that aged poorly, but the context of his arrival in Minnesota makes his exit even more of a bummer. 

Grade: F

Trading Nick Gordon for Steven Okert

An offseason move that actually turned out well? That seems to be the case when it comes to the Twins adding Steven Okert from the Miami Marlins. Minnesota swapped Nick Gordon for Okert in a deal that was more about trading players who were out of options rather than DFA’ing them. 

Gordon has been perfectly serviceable for Miami this year, even if the Marlins are in a truly terrible spot. Okert hasn’t been perfect but he’s working with a 3.77 ERA and has pitched out of some pretty tough situations this season. There’s already been plenty of movement up and down in the Twins’ bullpen this season, but Okert has seemingly worked his way into a meaningful role. 

Grade: B

Not making a big move in free agency

The optics of the Twins not making a play on any of the top free agents this year, even with a depressed market, still aren’t great. Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger were always pipe dreams but Minnesota also sat out mid-tier guys who could be having an impact. 

A replacement for Sonny Gray was the top need, and while the Twins made it known that they’d be looking for a frontline starter the front office never made a move for one. Snell was a long shot, guys like Jack Flaherty, Seth Lugo, and Marcus Stroman were much more affordable. 

Look no further than the Kansas City Royals, who put together the type of offseason everyone thought the Twins would and are ahead of them in the standings. The Royals spent over $100 million on free agents, something the Twins were never going to do, but even spending half that could have markedly improved Minnesota’s depth to help avoid the types of peaks and valleys the team has experienced so far this year. 

There’s no way to politely dance around it. Ownership cowered in the face of potential lost revenue, slashed the payroll by $30 million, then sold fans out for a crappy TV deal that has a majority of the viewing area unable to watch games. Everything about what happened in free agency still tastes sour and it perhaps the biggest failure of all. 

Grade: F

Trading for Manuel Margot

Oof, where to begin here. 

Minnesota decided not to re-sign Michael A. Taylor to trade for Manuel Margot, with the sales pitch revolving around the latter’s offensive superiority. That’s already aged terribly, as Margot is hitting ___ while Taylor continues to be consistent at the plate, as well as in the field, with Pittsburgh. 

The trade also blocked Austin Martin’s path to the Opening Day roster. He eventually got called up after Royce Lewis got hurt, but he seemed to be ideal Byron Buxton insurance that stayed on-brand for the team’s desire to lean on in-house talent to reduce cost. 

Trading for Margot was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time and it keeps aging worse and worse the longer Twins fans have to deal with it. 

Grade: D-

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