Re-grading the Jorge Polanco trade: Was it a total bust for the Twins?

Looking back on the deal after four months makes it look even worse than it did at the time.
Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

To say the Minnesota Twins didn’t do a whole lot this offseason truly understates just how minimally the team took improving the roster seriously. Reducing the payroll by $30 million out of fear of lost future revenue played a major factor in handcuffing the front office, but even the moves that were made haven’t panned out great. 

Perhaps the biggest move the Twins made was trading Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners. It was a deal everyone knew was coming, as the logjam of infielders the Twins had was so great that it made an All-Star like Polanco expendable. What fans didn’t see coming was the team essentially salary dumping him, although that end result has been more circumstantial than an outright strategy. 

Another piece of the trade has seemingly fallen apart of the Twins. Justin Topa, who was arguably the most impactful part of the deal, suffered another injury setback and will miss at least the next six weeks. 

With Topa’s debut with the team — and his impact — significantly delayed, it’s worth taking a step back and assessing the deal now that we’re a few months into the season. 

Trading Jorge Polanco keeps looking like a total bust for the Twins

Original Grade: C
New Grade: D-

If the assets coming back to Minnesota were to be ranked, it’d probably look like this: 

  1. Justin Topa, RP
  2. Gabriel Gonzalez, OF
  3. Payroll relief (Carlos Santana)
  4. Anthony DeSclafani, SP
  5. Darren Bowen, RP

While Topa was clearly the best immediate piece of the deal, the Twins getting some money back on Anthony DeSclafani’s deal was significant. Minnesota ended up using some of the newly created space to sign Carlos Santana, which hasn’t exactly made this deal any better. 

Trading Polanco was teased early in the winter as a way to add a replacement for Sonny Gray. Instead, the Twins acquired a replacement for Kenta Maeda in DeSclafani but didn’t even get that. DeSclafani was shut down for the season with an elbow injury before Opening Day, a risk and caveat that Twins fans have grown all too accustomed to. 

After Topa’s setback, Gabriel Gonzalez is now looking like the centerpiece of the deal. While he didn’t climb in the latest MLB Pipeline ranking like the three other premier Twins prospects, he’s still a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball and that’s worth a lot. Gonzalez is still a few years away from being in the mix for an MLB roster spot, but he has the chance to develop into another key piece of the youth movement, or be used as a trade chip to help acquire some more immediate help. 

It’s starting to look like instead of trading Polanco to actively improve the roster, Minnesota traded him for a Top 100 prospect and $7 million.

Given the sales pitch earlier in the winter on how Polanco would be used as trade currency to offset not spending in free agency, it was already hard to feel good about the deal before the latest setback with Topa made it border on being a total bust. 

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