The big move we’ve been waiting all winter for the Minnesota Twins to make finally happened. Jorge Polanco was traded to the Seattle Mariners on Monday, with four players coming back to Minnesota in exchange.
It’s not an easy deal to grapple with, as Polanco was beloved by fans and some are doubting whether the return package was worth the price paid. The Twins acquired two MLB players, Anthony DeSclanfani and Justin Topa, while landing a pair of prospects. Gabriel Gonzalez is the more notable of the two as he’s the No. 79 prospect in MLB’s latest rankings, which means the Twins landed a Top 100 player.
As great as the return seems, none of it accomplishes the task of replacing Sonny Gray in the starting rotation. DeSclanfani pitched fewer than 100 innings last season with a 4-8 record and a 4.88 ERA. The Twins were never going to land a 1-for-1 replacement for Gray, but the whole winter has been spent teasing the acquisition of a frontline starter, which this deal failed to provide.
Perhaps another deal is not he horizon, but it sounds like the Twins are done making additions to the starting rotation. That means we pretty much know what the starting five will look like when the season starts in a few months.
Projected Twins starting rotation after acquiring Anthony DeSclafani
Rocco Baldelli already revealed who the Opening Day starter will be, and to the surprise of no one it’s going to be Pablo Lopez. We’ve always known that Pablo would be the Twins ace heading into the season, and the question has been how can Minnesota supplement his production.
Trading Jorge Polanco was going to be how the team made that addition, which means DeSclanfani appears to be the final piece of the starting rotation puzzle.
Here’s a look at where things are likely going to end up:
Things can change but Derek Falvey already indicated before the trade was made that he was okay going into the season with the starting five looking the way it did. At the time that included Louie Varland as a potential No. 5 option, but the acquisition of DeSclanfani seems to change that.
Varland is still expected to be in the mix for an Opening Day roster spot, but he’ll be coming out of the bullpen if he makes it.
It’s hard to feel overly thrilled with how the rotation shook out after all the hullabaloo about how the team could improve it. Rather than replace Gray, the Twins traded Polanco to replace Kenta Maeda at the back of the rotation — which feels like a steep price to pay.
Justin Topa is another key piece of this deal, though, as he adds some much-needed bullpen depth. Topa is a hard throwing reliever who finished last season with a 2.61 ERA in almost 80 innings of relief, and the Twins badly need some stability out of the pen.
The big offseason need was starting pitching, though, and it doesn’t feel like the team properly addressed that area the way fans were hoping.