In a deal and a fit that has seemingly made sense for the better part of four months, the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins swung a trade Monday night sending infielder Jorge Polanco to Seattle in exchange for right-handers Justin Topa and Anthony Desclafani. Seattle also sent two prospects in outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez and Darren Bowen to Minnesota.
Polanco, 30, addresses the Mariners’ need for a right-handed bat and a versatile option on the infield to supplant Josh Rojas as the full-time second baseman. Rojas is still likely to get extensive playing time against right-handed pitching at third base or to spell Polanco on his days off. Polanco got a good amount of run at third base for the first time in his career last season, a position he may man at times in order to spell Luis Urias against tough right-handed pitching. In 91 games last season, Polanco slashed .310/.341/.483 against left-handed pitching. He was worth 1.5 fWAR in 2023.
— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2023
Polanco is set to make $10.5 million in 2024 with a $12 million club option for 2025. There is a $750,000 buyout should the team elect not to bring him back after 2024.
The Twins receive Topa who represented one of the better leverage options for a Mariners bullpen that ranked fourth in baseball with a 3.48 ERA. Topa threw 69 innings in 2023 posting a 2.61 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He was worth 1.1 fWAR. Topa will make $1.25 million in his Arb 1 year with the Twins.
Desclafani was recently acquired by the Mariners in a blockbuster trade with the Giants involving OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Robbie Ray. He is a steady back-end of the rotation option for the Twins who pitched 99.2 innings in 2023 in multiple roles to the tune of a 4.88 ERA and 1.0 fWAR. Desclafani is due $12 million in 2024 and will be a free agent after the season. The Mariners will also reportedly send cash to the Twins to offset some of Desclafani’s deal.
Look at this HR swing! Gabriel freaking Gonzalez @MsPlayerDev with a BIG bomb to left. One of the best prospects here in Complex. @Mariners fans going to love him#ProspectOne pic.twitter.com/awdKLeegWW
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) July 29, 2022
Gonzalez may ultimately end up a noteworthy piece in the deal. The 20-year-old outfield prospect was the 7th ranked prospect in the Mariners system according to FSS PLUS and carries a Role 45 future. His profile is buoyed by solid average game power and a hit tool that has been streaky. His tools in the field are mostly fringe-average to average with arm strength being the most projectable athletic trait. Gonzalez has many fans in the scouting community with some believing it plus raw power and a hit tool that is burgeoning as he gets more acclimated with full season stateside baseball. Gonzalez was not set to rank inside the Top 100 prospects at FSS PLUS.
Seattle may have really stolen a guy in the 2022 Draft.
13th Rd pick Darren Bowen out of UNC-Pembroke looks the part. Just 6’2″ 170lb. Up to 98. FF sits 94-97, avg. 19″ IVB. Promising 2-seam. Low-80s sweeper. Nascent CH. Loose. Athletic. Longer AA. Needs to add weight to start. pic.twitter.com/zPL1hMrLJC
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) June 20, 2023
Bowen is a name who has ascended up prospect boards after being drafted in the 13th round by Seattle in the 2022 draft. He’s a super-athletic right-hander with a lean, wiry, whippy frame and a fastball touching 97 mph. It features bat-missing shape and could eventually flirt with triple-digits if he’s reserved for a bullpen role down the road. Bowen also flashes an average slider and changeup, the former ticking up in the second half of 2023. Bowen was set to rank as the No. 21 prospect in the Mariners system for FSS PLUS.
At time of publish it is unclear how much money Seattle will send to the Twins in the deal. Without that aspect included, the Twins are taking on $2.75 million in 2024.
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