The Twins have been candid all throughout the offseason about their plans to reduce player payroll this winter, and they’ve largely been successful in that endeavor. RosterResource projects the club for a payroll of just $124MM in 2024, which would represent a $35MM haircut relative to last year’s payroll. Given that reality, Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that the club does not plan on engaging in a “salary-dump” trade this winter.
That’s surely heartening news for Twins fans, given rumors that swirled earlier this offseason indicating that the likes of second baseman Jorge Polanco, outfielder Max Kepler, and infielder Kyle Farmer were available in trade this winter. While Hayes left open the possibility of a trade coming together, he made clear that the club doesn’t plan on dealing those players in order to clear salary or add prospects. Instead, the Twins are angling to bring back major league talent in any deal as they look to build on a 2023 campaign that saw the club win its first playoff series in two decades.
Hayes also indicates that the club would prefer to move Polanco and/or Farmer rather than Kepler, adding that the “expectation” entering the offseason was that Minnesota would move two infielders from their big-league roster to lessen the club’s positional logjam. Setting aside Polanco and Farmer, the club employees Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, and Edouard Julien as likely regulars with the likes of Jose Miranda, Austin Martin, Nick Gordon, Willi Castro and top prospect Brooks Lee all likely to spend at least some time on the infield dirt as well next season. The same goes for Alex Kirilloff, who figures to factor heavily into the club’s first base mix but has plenty of experience in the outfield as well. By contrast, the club’s outfield mix is much less crowded, with Kepler, Byron Buxton, Matt Wallner, and Trevor Larnach making up the club’s primary options though Kirilloff, Martin, Gordon, and Castro all also have experience on the grass as well.
Despite the club’s apparent willingness to deal from its surplus, Hayes suggests that a deal doesn’t appear likely to come together anytime soon. While he notes that the club has identified potential trade partners and begun talks with them, many of those teams are still waiting to see how the rest of free agency plays out. That’s not necessarily a surprise given the number of positional free agents, ranging from Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman to Justin Turner and Whit Merrifield, are still available at this point in the winter.
If the club hopes to add big league talent in exchange for parting with an established veteran like Polanco or Farmer, it’s not hard to see what areas of the roster they could target. The departures of Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda have left the club unusually thin in the starting rotation. While a quintet of Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan, Chris Paddack, Bailey Ober, and Louie Varland would be a viable group to carry into Opening Day, there’s plenty of room for improvement in that group and the club lacks much in the way of depth. Should any of the team’s starting five suffer an injury early in the season, the Twins currently figure to lean on an unproven arm like Brent Headrick or Simeon Woods-Richardson to take the ball every fifth day.
MLBTR took a look at possible trade partners for the Twins regarding Polanco last month, and many of those same teams could also benefit from the addition of Farmer as well. The Mariners, Cubs, Blue Jays, Giants, and Marlins were among the clubs mentioned who could stand to add another bat to their infield mix while also having the sort of MLB-ready pitching depth that the Twins could be interested in from which to deal. Speculatively speaking, a team like the Dodgers or Angels could also benefit from bolstering their infield depth given the uncertain shortstop situation in L.A. and the many injuries Anaheim’s infielders suffered last season. Both clubs also have controllable pitching options who could theoretically be moved this winter, such as Gavin Stone and Chase Silseth.