Minnesota Twins – 2B/3B Jorge Polanco
Jorge Polanco is the best player out of this group of five A.L. Central division players, but he is not known by many. He had one of the most underrated seasons last year, hitting a career-high 33 home runs, a career-high wRC+ of 122, and he also had a career-high slugging percentage of .503. Those numbers helped him earn a WAR of 3.9 last year in 152 games for the Twins. He was one of the best second basemen last year and could be a huge boost for the Mariners.
Overall, Polanco is a fringey defensive infielder who can play all three infield spots besides first base. He played 120 games at second base last year, and ideally should play there but could play third base if the Mariners decided he would be better there. His bat is what the Mariners would love to add most of all. He had a huge breakout year in 2021, and he probably won’t be quite as good in 2022, but he still could be great.
It is very reasonable to estimate that Polanco could have similar offensive value to Mitch Haniger. Both hit over 30 home runs last year, nearly 100 RBI each, and similar slash lines. The bonus of Polanco is that he is a slightly better hitter for average than Haniger. Adding Polanco would be a huge boost for the M’s and he would not be a short-term add either. He has two years left on his contract, but then two option years after that, keeping Polanco through 2025.
His contract is also not expensive, only costing just over $35 million including his option years. This is all that makes Polanco a potentially huge get for the Mariners, but he would certainly be most costly to acquire out of the players so far.
This deal certainly would take some of the Mariners higher thought of prospects, but it would not be in vain. The way that the Mariners can sweeten the deal for the Twins and not just offer prospects is by adding Abraham Toro to the package since he has big league time. This deal does have bulk, but the Mariners do not give up some of their prospects with the highest ceilings.
Toro has not done a ton in the big leagues, but he has several years left and could turn into the type of player that Polanco is now. Stoudt and Dollard are both good pitching prospects, but profile as back end of the rotation starters more than middle of the rotation arms. Mercedes is a lottery ticket who is most likely a bullpen arm who pitched in Modesto last year.
The package may seem like a lot, but Polanco will cost a lot because of his production and his fairly cheap contract. The Mariners could do a similar deal where they traded maybe players like Brandon Williamson and Zach DeLoach for Polanco, but those players have more upside and are more coveted by the M’s front office.
This gives both sides something good. The Mariners get Polanco, and the Twins get a player to immediately replace Polanco, Stoudt who could be in the big leagues this summer, Dollard is probably a year behind him, and Mercedes a year or two behind Dollard. The Twins get four players who fit into waves for them to impact their club for years to come. The Mariners would get a second baseman to lock down that spot for years to come as well.
Overall, the American League Central Division offers the Mariners a world of possibilities to trade for. They could upgrade their outfield depth, their pitching depth, and their infield with both upside plays and established players. The Mariners will have several opportunities to be an even better team in 2022, and it will depend on the types of players they acquire once this labor negotiation dispute is over and the lockout is lifted.