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SEATTLE — The Mariners began the week comfortable launching the renewed roster they had put together after the notable additions of Mitch Garver, Mitch Haniger and Luke Raley, among others. But his trade with the Twins for second baseman Jorge Polanco on Monday night has put the lineup in arguably a better position than it was on the final day of the 2023 season.
Polanco was acquired in exchange for reliever Justin Topa, starter/reliever Anthony DeSclafani and prospects Gabriel González, an outfielder, and Darren Bowen, a right-handed pitcher, along with cash considerations.
The four-for-one trade clearly indicates a win-now move. Here are some takeaways from the trade:
1. How does Polanco fit into a crowded field?
Polanco brings versatility as a switch-hitter and middle infielder who will lengthen Seattle’s lineup and bolster their bench due to the trickle-down effect of where other players disperse.
Prepared as a shortstop, Polanco moved to second on a more permanent basis in 2021, but also logged 103 innings at third after returning from a left hamstring injury in 2023. He also spent most of 3,529 appearances at the plate of his career hitting numbers 1-3. positions in the lineup, where he will likely settle under manager Scott Servais.
“Having a guy who is neutral, who can hit in the middle of our lineup from either side, is a huge advantage for Scott as he stacks the lineup,” Mariners general manager Justin Hollander said.
The planned platoon of left-handed hitter Josh Rojas and right-handed hitter Dylan Moore at second base will likely now move to third, where offseason acquisition Luis Urías was scheduled to see the most reps. And considering the Mariners have left-handers Dominic Canzone and Luke Raley, as well as right-hander Haniger flanking Julio Rodriguez in the corner outfield, on any given night, one of that group will be available off the bench, along with Moore , receiver Seby Zavala and Rojas or Urías.
“It gives Scott a number of options every day to determine who fits best depending on what the other team is doing from a pitcher’s perspective,” Hollander said.
Perhaps quietly above all, Polanco’s presence gives the Mariners infield some much-needed injury insurance, given everyone else’s depth and versatility.
2. How will they replace Topa?
The biggest void created by Monday’s trade is in the back end of the bullpen, where Topa became a reliable setup man, posting a 2.61 ERA (ERA+ of 155, where the league average is 100). He will earn $1.25 million next season.
The Mariners have been on the frontier of turning unknown names into legitimate relievers (Topa and Paul Sewald are the starters), so it’s understandable that they feel comfortable entering spring training seeing what they have in Jackson Kowar, Carlos Vargas and Mauricio Llovera. , Cody Bolton, Eduard Bazardo and Prelander Berroa, among others, even if they have not had consistent performance in the Majors.
“Topa was great; We will have to replace it,” Hollander said. “I think it’s most likely that he will be internally with the possibility, as always, that we can add externally as well.”
DeSclafani was slated to be a sort of sixth starter who would stretch out in the spring and then transition to the bullpen to be the first reinforcement of the rotation, if needed. Austin Voth, a Washington state native who signed a major league contract earlier this month, now fills that spot.
3. What happens to the prospects they gave up?
The Mariners also parted ways with two notable prospects in Gonzalez (No. 3 in the organization, per MLB Pipeline, and No. 79 overall) and Bowen (who is unranked but would have been in Seattle’s top 30 by 2024).
Gonzalez is a contact specialist, but is limited to a corner outfield spot, which puts more pressure on his bat. He hit 18 home runs last year between Low-A Modesto and High-A Everett, although his exit velocities and other metrics that measure his impact didn’t take the step forward that some evaluators had predicted.
Bowen was a 13th-round pick in 2022, but took a major step forward last year at Modesto, where he maxed out at 97-98 mph and sat at 94-95 mph. His long-term profile could be that of a reliever, but there are interesting advantages.
4. What are the next steps?
With most of their roster holes filled and a rotation that remarkably remained intact despite looking like the area they needed to deal with, the Mariners are likely done with their heavy lifting this offseason: smaller tertiary additions, such as signing deals. minor leagues with spring training. Invite despite everything.
“I feel like our team is more complete than yesterday and better than yesterday,” Hollander said Monday night. “I don’t want to rule anything out. I don’t want to promise anything. It is simply impossible to say what will happen between now and the start of the regular season.”