Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco had an injury-filled 2022 season. Unfortunately, the 2023 campaign for the 29-year-old is looking a lot more like last year. Polanco is expected to miss the beginning of the season due to recurring knee issues, a tough blow for the former All-Star. Here’s a look at how the Twins can adjust with Polanco out to start 2023.
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A Look at Polanco
Twins infielder Jorge Polanco is no stranger to injuries. Back tightness and left knee inflammation limited Polanco to just 104 games in 2022, one year after a career campaign in 2021. When on the field, Polanco hit .235/.346/.405 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs.
While Polanco did record an above-average OPS+ (117), a career-high in BB% (14.2%) helped buoy that figure up. He did cut down on the chases last year, but did whiff more and made less contact on pitches in the zone. That helps explain the .235 batting average, a career-low for the power-hitting middle infielder. Despite a below-average season, Polanco still retains plenty of value for Minnesota entering the 2023 season.
Per Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey, Polanco is doubtful for Opening Day. The 29-year-old has not played in a Spring Training game thus far. When Polanco does come back, he’ll re-join an infield that includes Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda, the latter of whom should see time at both first and third in 2023.
What it Means
The Twins have a number of options to replace Polanco in the interim, including Nick Gordon, Kyle Farmer, and Donovan Solano.
Gordan had a solid season for the Twins last season, in which he hit .272/.316/.427 with seven home runs, 41 extra base hits, and 50 RBIs over 136 games (443 PA). The 27-year-old played mostly outfield for the Twins in 2022, but did play in 36 games at second last year. Given Gordon’s super-utility prowess, it’s fair to expect him to get some time at the position while Polanco is out. But, that doesn’t mean he’ll be the only one to slot in at second.
Newcomers Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano should also see time at second. Farmer, acquired from the Reds via trade this past winter, figures to get time at second, third, and short throughout the year. The 32-year-old has experience at each position, and his flexibility already was a positive for Minnesota. Farmer possesses good pop for a middle infielder, and good bat-to-ball skills.
Solano, meanwhile, has quietly been one of the league’s better contact hitters over the past four seasons. Minnesota signed Solano last month, which gave the Twins another option as the team looks to re-align its infield after the trade of Luis Arraez.