Per Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Seattle Mariners are acquiring 2B Jorge Polanco in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. The return to Minnesota, per his coworker Kiley Mcdaniel, is two major leaguers and two minor leaguers; Seattle is sending RHP Justin Topa and RHP Anthony DeSclafani, alongside minor leaguers OF Gabriel Gonzalez and RHP Darren Bowen.
Topa leaves a hole in the bullpen, having arrived with little expectation and blossoming into a key part of the 2023 bullpen. DeSclafani is a pure salary dump, having arrived as part of the salary offset for sending Robbie Ray to the San Francisco Giants earlier this winter. His salary, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, nearly offsets that of Polanco, but Seattle will be sending a small sum to Minnesota to fully balance the deal.
MLB righties Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Topa along with prospects OF Gabriel Gonzalez and RHP Darren Bowen is the four player return for Polanco, per sources. Believe cash is also involved. https://t.co/GQDKtwaogh— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) January 30, 2024
The two prospects are Gonzalez, who cracked some Top-100 lists this winter, including 79th on MLB Pipeline’s list, and minor league RHP Darren Bowen, who shined last year and was arguably the club’s best pitching prospect in the minors. Gonzalez is a young, consistent performer who projects as a corner outfielder whose spray contact ability can carry him, so long as he can grow into more game power. Bowen’s sweeping slider was one of the most impressive pitches in the system, a bright spot in the low to mid minors for the M’s, where few pitching prospects currently reside, albeit largely due to Seattle investing draft capital in many promising prep position players instead.
The return is, however, a potentially significant one. Jorge Polanco made an All-Star team in 2019 at age 25, and has been a core component of the best Minnesota Twins teams in recent years. The switch-hitting Dominican is under contract for 2024 at $10.5 million, as well as having a $12 million team option for 2025 with a meager $750k buyout. Polanco has spent most of his career as a contact-hitting all around asset to a club, whose bat is strongest against righties (118 wRC+ career vs. RHP, 96 vs. LHP). A .269/.334/.446 career line and 111 wRC+ entering his age-30 season is indicative of his steady quality when he’s been on the field, and his range of ZiPS, Steamer, and PECOTA projections are all that of an above-average middle infielder. He is, per logic and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, going to be the Mariners’ starting second baseman. Should Seattle choose to end their moves there, this affords Josh Rojas and Luis Urías the opportunity to platoon at third base, bolstering the depth of the roster while giving Seattle a player who projects to be a 2-3 win starter. Polanco has missed some time in the past two seasons, however he’s been a healthy player for multiple full seasons of play previously, and should be the best full-time second baseman for Seattle in some time.