It's already shaping up to be an interesting offseason for the Minnesota Twins. After snapping the miserable 19-year losing streak in October, the expectation among fans is that the team is going to use this winter to load up and make a legitimate run at winning a World Series next season.
Those plans aren't exactly panning out as easily as it might have initially seemed.
Minnesota began the offseason by announcing the payroll would be slashed. Rather than go out and spend to win, the Twins will once again have to get creative in how the team adds talent to improve the roster, which means trades might be more prevalent than free agent signings.
One area the Twins need to patch up is pitching, where the team is set to lose a major piece of the puzzle. Sonny Gray is expected to parlay his Cy Young-worthy season into a sizable new deal, which means Minnesota is going to need to find a way to replace his innings and production.
There are some intriguing pitching options available on the open market, but the lack of positional depth potentially gives the Twins a slight advantage. Both Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler are on the trade block, and the line of MLB insiders predicting they'll be flipped continues to grow.
Jeff Passan weighs in on Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco trade rumors
Add ESPN's Jeff Passan to the list of insiders who are weighing in on the Twins trade chips.
Passan mentioned both Kepler and Polanco in his offseason outlook, noting that they're absolutely in a trade tier that needs to be watched. He didn't attach either to a specific team, but it sounds like Passan thinks they'll both get traded this winter.
"Both are free agents after this season, and with Minnesota's concerns over the collapse of the Bally regional sports networks and what that will mean for their revenue, the Twins are expected to shed payroll this winter after winning the AL Central," Passan wrote.
What started as a case of trying to determine which of the two will be traded is starting to sound more like both Kepler and Polanco will be dealt this winter. Minnesota has a glut of talent coming up in the infield, specifically at second base, which makes trading Polanco almost a no-brainer.
Edouard Julien spent time there last season and both Austin Martin and Royce Lewis could play there if Brooks Lee gets the call and ends up at third base. There's also the future of Yunior Severino to consider, someone the Twins added to the 40-man roster to protect against losing in the Rule 5 Draft.
Kepler is also in a crowded position group, but the demand for corner outfielders is the biggest reason a trade might happen. Teams like the Yankees, Mariners, and Braves could all use Kepler's bat in the lineup and his glove has always been outstanding.
Nothing has gained much momentum yet, but it's sounding more and more like it's a matter of when and not if the Twins find a trade partner for Kepler and Polanco.