As we enter a new year, the Minnesota Twins seem stuck in the past. The team has yet to make more than a single move over the course of the entire offseason, but it feels like only a matter of time before that changes.
Unlike last January, the Twins aren’t expected to be handing out any big contracts in free agency. Instead, the trade market is likely where the team will be most active, with Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco both serving as valuable trade chips the team could flip.
Replacing Sonny Gray remains a top priority for Minnesota, as pitching must remain a strength the way it was last season. That’s a lot easier said than done, especially with a reduced payroll handcuffing the front office.
That reduced payroll makes the approach with Polanco even more interesting. Will the team flip him as part of a plan to add a pitcher or will he be traded in a salary dump. The latter option seems unlikely, as the Twins picked up his option with intent to do something.
Where that might lead them is a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
Cubs listed as a ‘best fit’ for Jorge Polanco, but does it make sense?
MLBTR recently took a look at the landscape for a Jorge Polanco trade, the Chicago Cubs were mentioned as a potential fit (h/t our friends over at Cubbies Crib). It’s not a concrete report, but then again the Twins haven’t really given us much to chew on over the last month of the offseason.
Specifically with Polanco, there have been rumors since the end of October that he could be traded and those whispers have only grown louder. As the Twins continue to sit out the starting pitching market in free agency, the currency that Polanco represents as a trade chip only becomes more valuable — and logical — in landing a starter.
There are two questions here: what do the Cubs have that makes it worth the Twins’ while, and does Polanco actually fit?
A lot of the reasoning for Polanco as a fit with the Cubs revolves around the idea that he could play third base. Nico Hoerner is locked in at second base, although he has experience in the outfield, but the Cubs badly need to figure things out at third.
That’s where Polanco enters this hypothetical.
“With Candelario now suiting up for Cincinnati, the Cubs are once again left with a hole at third base and a dearth of left-handed pop in their lineup. The addition of Polanco could address both of those concerns,” MLBTR’s Nick Deeds wrote. “He looked decent at the position when covering for Royce Lewis this past season and the Cubs had little issue converting from the keystone to the hot corner last spring.”
Decent is doing a lot of work in that arguement, as Polanco’s defense left a lot to be desired. If he gets enough time there he might settle in, but the Twins didn’t wait long to replace him with a not-yet-100 percent Lewis in the ALDS.
As far as what the Cubs could ship back, Hayden Wesneski and Ben Brown are intriguining candidates. Neither would step in to fill the shoes of Sonny Gray, but both have upside. Brown specifically could be a nice return piece, as he’s a 24-year-old righty who has a fastball sitting at 94-96 mph and peaking at 98 with armside run. He was sent to Chicago as part of the David Robertson trade in 2022 but has yet to make his Major League debut.
Neither of those guys blows anyone away, though.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say the Cubs are a perfect fit for Polanco given they’d need him to switch positions, and the return package might not be that great. Minnesota doesn’t need to rush into a trade and definitely doesn’t need to settle. There are players the Cubs could toss into a deal, but there’s a point where it might not be worth it on their end to reach for Polanco.