The Seattle Mariners had holes at second and third base as spring training approached. They have solved at least one of those concerns.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Mariners have acquired Jorge Polanco from the Twins. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that the Twins are receiving reliever Justin Topa, starter Anthony DeSclafani, and outfield prospect Gabriel Gonzalez. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN reported that pitcher Darren Bowen is the fourth player heading to Minnesota.
The Mariners had said that they were looking to add more contact-oriented hitters to their lineup. Polanco fits the mold of what general manager Jerry Dipoto had envisioned. He produced a .255/.335/.454 batting line in his 343 plate appearances, hitting 14 homers and 19 doubles. He struck out at a 25.7% rate last year, but has a career 18.2% strikeout rate over his career. Polanco would fit Dipoto’s vision.
The Twins are getting help both now and in the future. Pablo Lopez and Joe Ryan are a strong duo atop their rotation but they need help. DeSclafani, if healthy, could be a part of the solution. He posted a 5.16 ERA and a 1.374 WHiP in his 118.2 innings as he battled ankle, shoulder, and elbow woes over the past two years. However, he had established himself as a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm before his injuries.
Topa should slot into the middle of the Twins’ bullpen. He was a solid middle reliever in Seattle last season, posting a 2.61 ERA and a 1.145 WHiP in his 69 innings, striking out 61 batters with 18 walks. The 32-year-old performed well in his first extended look at the major league level in 2023.
Bowen was a 13th-round selection by the Mariners in the 2022 MLB Draft. He has the makings of a plus fastball and slider, with the fastball sitting in the mid-90s. He also has a changeup but that offering needs work to become a viable third offering. Bowen is considered to have an advanced feel for pitching but may end up being a relief prospect due to his fastball/slider combination.
Gonzalez is the big prize for the Twins. MLB.com rates him as the 79th-best prospect in baseball, a strong-armed outfielder with a knack for making contact and plenty of power potential. He produced a .298/.361/.476 batting line in his 535 plate appearances between A-ball and High-A, hitting 18 homers and 23 doubles. As he works on lifting the ball more and gets in better shape, those power numbers should increase.
This is one of those trades that could make an impact on both teams. The Twins needed pitching help for 2024 and now have a pair of prospects that could be significant pieces in the future. The Mariners not only added a player for either second or third, but they also brought in someone whose contact ability fits their imagined lineup.