The Twins have officially picked up the 2024 team options on RF Max Kepler and IF Jorge Polanco, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. Kepler will make $10 million next season, the final year of his deal, while Polanco will get $10.5 million and has a $12 million club option for 2025 with a $750k buyout.
There’s no surprise at all on Kepler. After a rough start to the season, Kepler rebounded in the second half, putting up a .306/.377/.549 batting line with 31 extra-base hits and 36 RBI after the All-Star Break. He was central in the offense becoming one of the best in baseball down the stretch while playing his typical stellar defense in right field.
Polanco, on the other hand, had a few more questions. He was effective when he played, hitting .255/.355/.454 with 14 homers, but injuries limited him to only 80 games after playing in only 104 in 2022. With Edouard Julien and Royce Lewis seemingly entrenched as the second and third basemen of the future, there was some thought the Twins might want to move on. However, with questions about Julien’s defense and Lewis’ durability, having a third starting-caliber infielder could be important next season.
With a reasonable salary and an additional year of team control, Polanco could also be viewed as a valuable trade chip to fill one of the Twins’ other needs. The Twins have plenty of other infield depth beyond the three players already mentioned. Willi Castro and Kyle Farmer are still on the roster, though the latter could be non-tendered. Jose Miranda can still theoretically play third base. Top prospect Brooks Lee will be ready to debut at some point next season, while lower ranked depth pieces like Austin Martin and Yunior Severino will be ready and waiting in St. Paul as well.
Plenty of contenders could use a starting second baseman with the versatility and willingness to play other positions when necessary. Derek Falvey finds himself in a similar position to last offseason with Kepler. If there is a trade that makes sense, then you have the depth to deal Polanco. If nothing pans out, there will be plenty of ABs to go around splitting time at second, third, and DH.
Since signing as international free agents in 2009, they’ve seen a lot of ups and downs within the organization. Time will tell what the ultimate plan is, but for now, the longest-tenured Twins players will remain with the team.