If the Minnesota Twins are serious about improving the roster this winter, the front office is going to have to get creative.
The Twins already had several things to address over the offseason, but things got more complicated with news that the payroll would be slashed. It's a frustrating turn of events, but it highlights certain potential moves even more than before.
We all know about the outgoing talent, but the list of players that the Twins will add is a little harder to decipher. Free agency will be key but with a reduced budget the team can't go out and spend big. This means the trade value of Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler becomes even more important when thinking about how to make improvements.
It's no secret that the Twins would be shopping Kepler and Polanco this winter, both because of their affordable deals and the logjam of talent behind them on the depth chart. New payroll complications mean the Twins might be getting even more creative in how they choose to use their trade chips.
MLB insider says Twins could package Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler in same trade
We've gone from wondering if the Twins would use Kepler or Polanco as a trade chip to trying to determine which of the two will certainly be traded. MLB Network's Jon Morosi joined the growing chorus of national insiders naming Polanco as the likeliest candidate, pegging his chances of being dealt as 'very strong'.
"[Polanco] is someone who is available and people around the industry think there is a very strong chance that the Twins will in fact move Jorge Polanco this winter," Morosi said.
That's not the juiciest bit, though.
Everyone has assumed for a while that Polanco is likely to be traded to help add starting pitching, but Morosi suggests the Twins might combine their top trade chips in the same deal. That's the price to pay
"When you look at it from a roster balancing perspective, and the concerns the Twins have about potentially losing Sonny Gray, you could move or potentially package Kepler and Polanco to bring back the innings that you're missing should Gray," Morosi said.
Trading both Kepler and Polanco together...now that's interesting.
Gray is expected to leave in free agency, with the qualifying offer he was extended last week merely a formality. Minnesota would love to bring him back, but a three-year, $60 million feels like a deal that will get dwarfed by other offers in free agency.
Polanco has a year of team control left on his deal, which has always made him the more valuable trade chip, but packaging him with Kepler makes the deal even sweeter. There's some overlap in the potential teams that could be interested, with the Blue Jays, Mariners, and Yankees all making sense as landing spots for both Kepler and Polanco.
Why not lump everything together and get an even better piece back in return?
If the Twins wanted Logan Gilber from Seattle, simply trading one of Kepler or Polanco might not be enough. Packaging them together could do the trick, though. The same could be said for assets the Yankees and Braves have as well -- both teams looking to upgrade but not at free agency market price.
Last year the Twins made the difficult decision to trade Luis Arraez to the Marlins in a deal that landed them Pablo Lopez. Minnesota came out of that deal as big winners, and it might take another blow to the hearts of fans to land a player who can take the team even higher.