If the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to fill second base over first base, then Minnesota Twin infielder Jorge Polanco should be at the top of their players to pursue
The Pittsburgh Pirates will need to fix one of two holes this off-season: second base or first base. Rookie Jared Triolo had a great September and earned an extended look in the big leagues because of it. Triolo can play both second base and first base, so the Pirates will need to figure out which of the positions would be easier to fill.
If the Pirates decide that finding a second baseman and letting Triolo take over second base fulltime is the best option, then one player they should pursue is Minnesota Twins' infielder Jorge Polanco. Jorge Polanco has been a stalwart in the Minnesota Twins’ line-up for years now, but with Minnesota potentially cutting some budget, they could listen to offers surrounding the infielder.
Polanco is coming off another quality season at the plate, batting .255/.335/.454 with a .340 wOBA, and 118 wRC+. Polanco smacked 14 home runs in 343 plate appearances while having a .199 isolated slugging percentage. Polanco has been a consistently good hitter at the plate. This was the fifth 162 game season in a row he’s posted a wRC+ of at least 111, and the fourth year in a row his wRC+ has reached at least 118.
Polanco walked at an above-average 10.5% rate, but his 25.7% strikeout rate was uncharacteristic for the second baseman. It’s just the second time he’s ever struck out more than 20% of the time, and the first time he’s had a worse than league average strikeout rate. But on the plus side, his ISO is the second best of his career.
The switch-hitter is not considered a good defensive second baseman. He had +1 defensive runs saved, but -5 outs above average in less than 500 innings this past year. But Polanco isn’t a horrific butcher at the keystone. He can handle the position, and there are many more far worse defensive middle infielders currently in the game. If worse came to worse, the Pirates could always move Triolo to 2B and let Alfonso Rivas take over at first base late into games.
The only thing is that Polanco is not going to be cheap. The trade market for middle infielders is a heavy seller's market. The best second baseman on the free agent market is Whit Merrifield, while the best shortstop is Tim Anderson. Polanco is making $7.5 million next season, and given he is one of the better middle infielders in the league, the Twins are going to rightfully have a fairly high asking price for him.
That being said, I’d still like to see the Pirates pursue Polanco. He would be a guy who could secure a line-up spot for the Pirates for multiple years. He has a vesting option for 2024 if he reaches 550 plate appearances, which is valued at just $10.5 million. Then he has a team option for 2025 worth $12 million.
I am not the only one who thinks the Pirates should consider Polanco. Justice delos Santos of MLB.com also listed the second baseman as a potential off-season target for the Pirates. It might cost a pretty penny, but if the Pirates have to give up something of decent value, they should do it. This could be an easy and effective way to solve a line-up spot for multiple seasons.