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Jorge Polanco trade: Mariners acquire All-Star second baseman in five-player swap with Twins

Two American League postseason contenders have hooked up for a trade. The Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins have completed a five-player trade sending infielder Jorge Polanco to Seattle, the teams announced Monday. The Twins will receive starter Anthony DeSclafani, reliever Justin Topa, and prospects Gabriel Gonzalez and Darren Bowen in return.

“From the beginning of this offseason, Jorge was someone we identified as a perfect fit for our roster,” Mariners GM Justin Hollander said in a statement. “As a switch hitter with a long track record of success, he’s also renowned around the league for his work ethic and leadership skills. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to add such an impactful presence to both our lineup and clubhouse.”

Polanco, 30, authored a .255/.335/.454 line with 14 home runs in 80 games around an injury last season. He has posted at least a 110 OPS+ in the last five 162-game seasons, meaning he has been at least 10% better than league average once adjusted for ballpark and other factors. Polanco has been a consistently above-average hitter the last half-decade.

Entering the offseason, we ranked Polanco as one of the top 25 trade candidates in the sport. The Twins have younger and cheaper options at second (Edouard Julien) and third (Royce Lewis) bases and needs elsewhere on the roster, so it makes sense to flip Polanco for multiple pieces. Minnesota is trading from a position of depth. A textbook baseball trade.

For the Mariners, the trade gives them the middle of the order bat they sorely need. Polanco is versatile enough to step in at second or third base — second base is his best and most familiar position — where Seattle had Josh Rojas and Luis Urias penciled in. The Seattle Times reports the Mariners plan to play Polanco at second base, likely moving Rojas into a utility role.

With Polanco, Mariners manager Scott Servais could align his starting lineup like so:

  1. SS J.P. Crawford, LHB
  2. CF Julio Rodríguez, RHB
  3. 2B Jorge Polanco, SHB
  4. DH Mitch Garver, RHB (offseason signing)
  5. C Cal Raleigh, SHB
  6. LF Luke Raley, LHB (offseason trade pickup)
  7. 1B Ty France, RHB
  8. RF Mitch Haniger, RHB (offseason trade pickup)
  9. 3B Luis Urías, RHB

DeSclafani, 33, joined the Mariners in the Robbie Ray trade with the San Francisco Giants earlier this offseason. He threw 99 2/3 innings with a 4.88 ERA in 2023 and will join Pablo López, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and likely Chris Paddack in the rotation this coming season. Minnesota had yet to replace Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, who left as free agents.

Polanco is owed $10.5 million in 2024 with an affordable $12 million club option in 2025. DeSclafani is owed $12 million in 2024, the final year on his contract. Seattle is sending the Twins cash in the trade to make the deal salary neutral. The Twins are caught up in the ongoing Diamond Sports Group (i.e. Bally Sports) bankruptcy and haven’t added any money this winter.

The 32-year-old Topa gave the Mariners 69 innings with a 2.61 ERA last season; he had thrown only 18 1/3 innings in parts of three MLB seasons prior to the trade. He’ll help replace Emilio Pagán, who left as a free agent this offseason. Topa, Griffin Jax, and closer Jhoan Duran figure to serve as manager Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen Circle of Trust in 2024 if all goes well.

Baseball America ranked Gonzalez the No. 5 prospect in Seattle’s system prior to the trade, saying he needs to refine his approach to “fulfill his potential as an everyday, power-hitting right fielder.” The 20-year-old hit .298/.361/.476 with 18 home runs at the two Single-A levels in 2023. Bowen, a 22-year-old righty, was ranked by BA as the No. 25 prospect in the Mariners’ system.

The Twins went 87-75 and won the AL Central last season. They snapped their record 18-game postseason losing streak and even won a postseason round, sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series. The Mariners went 88-74 and missed the postseason, one game out of a wild-card spot.

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