It's no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays have some holes to fill in their roster for next season. With the offseason slowing ramping up, there seems to be a never-ending parade of names being mentioned as possible trade options around the league.
One recent report shines a light on a pair of players who the Minnesota Twins are thinking about moving this winter and who would fit in nicely with the Blue Jays.
Everyone's favorite MLB insider this time of year, Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who seems to be just about everywhere you look, spoke about the possibility of the payroll-cutting Twins moving outfielder Max Kelper and infielder Jorge Polanco.
Morosi spoke to Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey about the team's trade outlook at the GM Meetings.
"Fortunately for us, we have a lot of good players that we felt really good about during the course of the season that played well for us through the year," Falvey said. "So, we fully expect guys who are established major league players, especially with our young players coming up behind them, that they're going to be targets of other clubs."
As MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park reports, the Twins picked up the 2024 options for both players. Kepler will make $10 million next year, while Polanco is set to earn $10.5 million. But, per Park, "... both players could generate trade interest this offseason due to the Twins’ relative depth in the outfield corners and at second base ..."
The Blue Jays have likely moved on from free agent center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. His successful year in Toronto will surely help him land a more lucrative contract elsewhere. If general manager Ross Atkins chooses to fill the outfield opening from outside the organization, Kepler is a fine choice.
"Max Kepler [is] a very affordable option for this year," Morosi says. "It was an easy pickup for the Twins because of his production and how easy it could be to move him."
The 30-year-old Kepler, a lefty, played 130 games for the Twins this past season, with 124 appearances in right field. He hit .260 with an .816 OPS, swatted 24 home runs, drove in 66 runs, and finished with a 124 wRC+.
On the defensive side, the Jays could easily slide Daulton Varsho over to center and let George Springer and Kepler play the corners. He's no Kiermaier, but he held his own in the field in 2023 with two defensive runs saved, a 6.3 UZR/150, four outs above average, and four runs above average.
As for Polanco, the 30-year-old second baseman played only 80 games in 2023 as he battled knee inflammation and hamstring problems. But with the emergence of Royce Lewis (yes, that Royce Lewis), Polanco is a valuable trade piece for the Twins.
"People around the industry believe there's a very strong chance that the Twins will in fact move Jorge Polanco this winter, "Morosi says. "There are not as many quality free agent bats as there are free agent arms. For that reason [there will be] more activity on position player trade market."
The career Twin put up a .255/.335/.454 slash line with 14 home runs, 48 RBI, and stole four bags in his half-season, but is just two seasons removed from a 153-game campaign with 33 home runs in 2021.
With Whit Merrifield no longer in the picture, Atkins would be smart to find a veteran like the switch-hitting Polanco to help plug the right side of the infield and pair with Davis Schneider, who will need to prove himself again in 2024.
So, what will the Twins be looking for in return for their two homegrown players? With Cy Young finalist Sonny Gray likely on his way out of Minnesota, Falvey and the Twins will be searching for pitching.
Per Morosi, the Twins "... can move or potentially package Kepler and/or Polanco to bring back the innings that [they're] missing should [Sonny] Gray sign elsewhere."
Only time will tell if Atkins and the Blue Jays feel confident enough in their pitching situation to part ways with a rotation arm just to fill the holes in the field.