If the Twins were going to trade away one of their franchise stalwarts in Jorge Polanco, they wanted to make sure to get the requisite return they felt would make such a deal worth it -- not just for this year, but also beyond. And they felt they did that, addressing their depth needs in both the rotation and bullpen while also adding a consensus Top 100 prospect in Gabriel Gonzalez.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the cash considerations the Twins are receiving in the deal mean they’re going to save roughly $5 million -- and one key implication of the deal is that the Twins expect to invest that freed-up money into additional help.
“With the trade and the way the cash all worked, we have some savings here just in this transaction alone that adds into the flexibility we have going through the free-agent market,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We still think there are ways that we can utilize some of that money to address other ways to improve the club.”
Though depth starter Anthony DeSclafani perhaps isn’t the most flashy addition to the rotation, the least the Twins needed to acquire (if not a difference-making arm) was someone who could bolster the rotation depth behind Louie Varland, given the lack of such depth that had existed prior to the trade. Justin Topa also serves as a meaningful bullpen addition.
Could that be all on the pitching side? It looks as though the Twins could be shifting gears.
“I think we’re going to be flexible and open-minded to what it looks like with adds to the infield, what it looks like with adds to the outfield,” Falvey said. “And maybe there’s an opportunity to continue to add on the pitching side -- I think our focus might turn more to the position player route.”
Even the freed-up money probably won’t allow them to make a more significant commitment, but the Twins were served very well by their late Donovan Solano signing last Spring Training -- and that sort of pragmatic right-handed bat would be a logical follow-up to their trade splash.
As Falvey said, the Twins aren’t necessarily bound to signing either an infielder or an outfielder and can perhaps be more focused on the bat, because the defensive flexibility of Willi Castro, Nick Gordon and Austin Martin to move between the infield and outfield could allow them wiggle room -- but looking at the platoons, an outfielder could make more sense, since they’ve already got Kyle Farmer and Jose Miranda in the infield.
Could that be Michael A. Taylor, who remains unsigned and made for a great fit on the Twins’ roster last year? If the Twins could swing it, a bigger bat like Adam Duvall, who can play all three outfield spots and first base, could make a lot of sense.
Either way, remember that this Twins front office often hasn’t put the finishing touches on its roster until the very, very last minute -- at times into Spring Training, and even on Opening Day (with the Taylor Rogers trade in 2022), so keep an eye on the transaction wire.