The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

    Mariners Trade for Jorge Polanco

    Five-player deal sends former all-star 2B to Seattle
    Jorge Polanco fielding for the Twins in 2017, courtesy of Keith Allison via Wikimedia

    News broke on the evening of Monday, January 29th that the Seattle Mariners would be acquiring former All-Star second baseman Jorge Polanco from the Minnesota Twins. ESPN insider Jeff Passan first reported the news. The trade comes after an offseason full of rumors, complaints from fans about the team’s lack of spending, and a whole lot of roster turnover. 

    “Polanco gives Seattle the middle of the order bat the lineup desperately needs,” wrote Mike Axisa for CBS Sports. 

    Jorge Polanco has had a solid MLB career to this point. He began his career with the Twins in 2014, at the age of 20, and has been with Minnesota ever since. A decade later, the thirty-year-old now will prepare for his first season in a new city.

    Polanco became an everyday starter in 2017 and was named to the American League all-star team in 2019. His stat lines have been impressive so far. He boasts a career slash line of .269/.334/.446, good for an OPS of .780 and an OPS+ of 111.

    OPS+ is a stat that adjusts every hitter’s stats for factors such as ballpark dimensions and the strength of the opponent, where a score of 100 is considered average. By that metric, Polanco has been 11% better than average throughout his career.

    He is a second baseman now, but was originally a shortstop, and has also played 20 games at third base, although that might not be a good idea, considering Baseball Savant grades his arm strength on the 22nd percentile.

    Polanco has suffered multiple injuries to his knee, ankle, and hamstring over the past two seasons, which has limited him to 184 games since 2022. The Mariners are of course hopeful that he will be able to stay healthy for the full season in 2024, because when he is healthy, Polanco is one of the more productive second basemen in the league. He will be owed 10.5 million dollars in 2024, and the Mariners will have an option to keep him around in 2025 for $12 million. 

    For the Mariners part, they did have to give up a few pieces to get Polanco. The M’s traded Reliever Justin Topa, Starter Anthony DeSclafini, and two prospects, Gabriel Gonzales and Darren Bowen. Topa emerged out of nowhere in 2023 for the Mariners. As a 32-year-old who had only pitched in 17 career games before last year, Topa pitched to a 2.61 ERA in 75 games, with 3 saves and 23 holds. DeSclafini was acquired a month ago from the Giants. He missed most of last year because of injuries and now will get a chance to revive himself with the Twins. He never pitched a game for the Mariners. 

    Gabriel Gonzales is the most intriguing prospect being moved. He was the Mariner’s third highest-rated prospect, the 79th Overall ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He is a 55-grade prospect and played last season with the Mariners A-ball affiliate, the Everett AquaSox. At only 20 years old, he may not play in the major leagues for at least another year or two. MLB Pipeline had this to say about Gonzalez’s potential as a prospect; 

    “Gonzalez’s ability to drive the ball is important because he’s limited to a corner outfield spot, putting more pressure on his bat. He’s a fringy runner now and might slow down as he matures, though he has decent defensive instincts and has an absolute hose for an arm. He has to keep staying on top of his body and conditioning, and he’s young enough to grow into tapping into his power to fit that corner profile well.” (MLB Pipeline)

    The Mariners were willing to part ways with Gonzalez & Topa because they felt the need to upgrade at second base was too large to ignore. The Mariners have used a different starting second baseman every year since trading Robinson Cano in 2018. Dee Gordon, Dylan Moore, Abraham Toro, Adam Frazier, and Kolten Wong have been the rotating door of second basemen, along with utility infielders Shed Long, Sam Haggerty, and Jose Caballero also playing significant time at the position. None of them have managed to stick around as a long-term starter, and the Mariners hope that Polanco will finally buck that trend. 

    General Manager Justin Hollander seems to think so. He talked about the trade on MLB Network, saying  “From the beginning of this offseason, Jorge was someone we identified as a perfect fit. … As a switch-hitter with a long track record of success, he’s also renowned around the league for his work ethic and leadership.” (Hollander, MLB Network)

    The Mariners lineup is likely set for 2024, with a starting infield of Polanco, JP Crawford, Josh Rojas, and Ty France, a starting outfield of Mitch Haniger, Luke Raley, and Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh at catcher, and Mitch Garver at Designated Hitter. With Seby Zavala under contract to be the backup catcher, Luis Urias owed $5 Million as a backup infielder, and Dylan Moore entering year two of his three-year deal, the Mariners likely have just one bench spot to fill. 

    Now the Mariners will take the next month to prepare for Spring Training in Arizona. They look to finally win their first AL West title since 2001, and Jorge Polanco could be a huge factor in helping them get there. 

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    About the Contributor
    Levi is a sophomore broadcast news major from Tacoma, Washington. He loves the Seahawks, Mariners, Kraken and of course the Cougs.