It might have taken a few months, but the Minnesota Twins finally threw a rock into the offseason ocean. How bg of a splash it ended up making is up for debate, as trading Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners remains something fans are firmly mixed on.
Minnesota got back four players for Polanco, none of whom fill the most immediate need the Twins had. Losing Sonny Gray to the St. Louis Cardinals created a void in the starting rotation, an area that was a strength for the first time in years.
To ensure it remains so, the Twins need to replace Gray's innings and production, as well as finding a way to do the same at the back of the rotation to account for the loss of Kenta Maeda. Trading Polanco did one of those two things, just not the one that had been teased all winter.
Rather than flipping Polanco for a frontline starter, the Twins acquired Anthony DeSclafani who projects to be a back-end rotation guy. That means Minnesota replaced Maeda, not Gray, by trading Polanco.
There are other pieces involved, like Top 100 prosect Gabriel Gonzalez and hard throwing sidearmed reliever Justin Topa, but it's not exactly what we all envisioned as a return package. It's also reportedly not as big as the deal could have been.
It sounds like the Twins passed on a bigger trade with Mariners
According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Mariners tried to get Max Kepler involved as part of a bigger deal but nothing materialized. Both Kepler and Polanco were rumored to potentially be packaged together in a deal this offseason, which tracks with Morosi's report that Seattle tried to pull that off during negotiations on Monday.
Only Polanco went to Seattle, but hearing Kepler's name mentioned is both interesting and a little frustrating.
Anyone who has qualms with the return package for Polanco probably won't be happy to hear that the deal could have been bigger. Pitchers like Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo had been tossed out as potential return in the speculation leading up to the trade, with Logan Gilbert being the pipe dream Twins fans wanted to see come true.
It might have taken a little bit more than Kepler and Polanco alone to land Gilbert, but it sounds like the Mariners were interested in sending more than it did back to Minnesota.
Then again, we have no idea what Seattle was offering and the power of imagination does fans no good in conjuring up deals that might have never been on the table. Still, if the Mariners wanted to include Kepler in the trade then it probably would have included one of the team's top young pitchers coming back to the Twins.
Minnesota pulling back on including Kepler is something to keep an eye on. It could be a wise strategy to hold onto Kepler and see what needs he might be able to help fill at the trade deadline rather than spending that currency now. Perhaps the Twins are working on another deal, one that would package Kepler and the newly acquired Gonzalez to land the frontline pitcher who was promised.
Or maybe the Twins have Kepler locked into their plans for 2024. Derek Falvey mentioned that positional depth is where the team will now turn is attention, and trading Kepler creates a need to replace him in right field.
Either way, the Twins have dipped their toe into the offseason waters and it seems like they might have one more move up their sleeve before the roster settles.