Now that the World Series is over, the offseason is officially underway.
It's going to be an important one for the Minnesota Twins, who ended a 19-year postseason losing streak so ephatically that it has convinced fans that a new era is dawning. The next step in ensuring progress isn't lost is to make sure this offseason is spent putting the right pieces in place for another run next season.
There are a few different threads that have opened up that the front office needs to address, but one has already been handled.
As expected, and unsurprisingly, the Twins exercised options on both Kepler and Polanco that theoretically keeps them in Minnesota through 2024.
This is great news, but there never really seemed to be a question. Getting two players like Kepler and Polanco back for a little over $20 million combined is close to a steal, and it might be something the Twins parlay into another move this winter.
What's next after Twins exercise options on Max Kelpler and Jorge Polanco?
A few weeks ago Star Tribune's twins beat writer Bobby Nightengale tossed out the idea that the team might entertain trade offers for Kepler, Polanco, or both. It's not a new idea, but we've reached the point where all of the speculation is going to materialize into something.
There's no pressing need for Minnesota to trade either player, which puts the front office in a nice position. If both Kepler and Polanco are on the roster when Opening Day rolls around, the Twins will be in great shape.
It's a question of whether the team can use one of the two as a trade chip to be in even greater shape?
Polanco is the more enticing player since he has another year of team control on his deal. He won't be a free agent until 2026, which means he could return more value if the Twins decide to trade him -- which makes a ton of sense.
It's not that Polanco isn't a productive member of the lineup, it's that there's expected to be a logjam of talent over the next few years that could edge him out. Austin Martin, Brooks Lee, and yunior Severino could all get called up this season and each of them can play second base. Lee can also play third, which might allow the Twins to move Royce Lewis over to second.
Let's not forget Edouard Julien, who isn't the strongest defensive option but his bat is one that the Twins will need to keep in the lineup. Polanco was tested at third base because of this reason when Lewis needed to DH while dealing with a hamstring injury in the Wild Card round.
Kepler is also in a crowded outfield that is only going to see more players pack the room. He might not bring back as much as Polanco would in a trade, but he turned things on offensively late in the year which could raise some interest.
With all that said, the Twins could keep both players and feel good about the decision. The point is that the front office has options and is in a great spot heading into Hot Stove SZN.