The Minnesota Twins came into the offseason with once very clear and distinct need to address. That need still exists even after the team traded Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners on Monday, creating a less than ideal situation.
With a reduced payroll and concerns over lost future revenue crippling the team’s ability to make meaningful additions, Polanco was long viewed as the most valuable piece of currency Minnesota had to spend.
It was a perfect storm for a trade, one that fans hoped looked a little more like what happened with Luis Arraez last winter. Minnesota traded Arraez to Miami for Pablo Lopez, a deal every Twins fan would make again in a heartbeat. Much like Arraez, Polanco was a beloved and productive piece of the lineup, but it feels like he netted quantity over quality as the dust settles on the five-player deal that sent him to Seattle.
Arraez was the objectively better player, so the fact that he netted a stronger return isn’t a surprise. Polanco was never going to be enough on his own to land a 1-for-1 replacement for Gray — not that the Twins would be able to easily do that anyway. But the biggest piece of the return package for Polanco was a reliever, Justin Topa, while the starter the Twins got is a back-end of the rotation arm.
Despite hearing all winter how important it was that Gray’s production is replaced, the Twins added a guy who pitched fewer than 100 innings last year. Making matters more frustrating, it sounds like the Twins are done tinkering with the starting rotation after dealing with Seattle.
Derek Falvey’s comments after Jorge Polanco trade are less than ideal
After the trade, Derek Falvey seemed to confirm that Anthony DeSclafani was the end result of the big pitching addition that had been teased earlier in the winter.
This tracks with comments Falvey made over the weekend about feeling good about where the starting five is at heading into Spring Training. When he made those comments, Falvey mentioned Louie Varland as being in the mix, which no longer seems to be the case after acquiring DeSclafani from Seattle.
It’s a giant bummer, because it feels like a bit of a bait-and-switch from what we were all led to believe earlier this offseason. The Twins are handcuffed by a reduced payroll, and the money that Seattle is eating on DeSclafani’s deal and sending back to Minnesota is going to be reallocated to the aformentioned positional depth Falvey mentioned.
There are pieces of the deal to like, such as Justin Topa being perhaps the biggest immediate addition for what he adds to the bullpen. Everything suggests he’s going to be a key reliever for the Twins, but acquiring him doesn’t address the biggest need the team had. Replacing Sonny Gray is what the team needed to do, specifically when it came to how Polanco was used as a trade chip, but instead he was essentially flipped to replace Kenta Maeda at the back of the rotation.
Not exactly what we were all hoping for, especially with how beloved and talented Polanco is.
The extra pieces in the deal add up to more than what the Twins were expected to get for trading Polanco, but it still feels like a weird hedge. Getting a Top 100 prospect — of which Minnesota now has four — is nothing to be upset about, but the Twins flipped their most valuable currency and their biggest need of the offseason still exists.