On Monday, the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners agreed to a blockbuster trade. The Mariners acquired Jorge Polanco from the Twins in exchange for two veteran arms and two prospects. Seattle, who's had a rather odd offseason, is attempting to keep pace with their division rivals, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
In return for Polanco, the Twins received reliever Justin Topa, starter Anthony DeSclafani, minor league pitcher Darren Bowen, outfield prospect Gabriel Gonzalez, and cash considerations. That's a nice haul for the Twins.
Did Minnesota and Seattle just offer the Cincinnati Reds a blueprint of what a Jonathan India trade might look like? While Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall has consistently downplayed the idea of trading India, the second baseman's name has continually come up in trade conversations this winter.
There are a lot of similarities between Jonathan India and Jorge Polanco
Before you fly off the handle and scream that Polano is so much better than India, take a breath, and look at some similarities between the two players. Both Polanco and India are primarily bat-first second basemen. Much like India, Polanco is not going to take home a Gold Glove.
Polanco has also struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Three separate trips to the IL saw Polanco take the field for just 80 games in 2023. The year before, he was limited to just 104 games. In fact, India's 372 games played over the past three seasons are more than the 336 games Polanco has appeared in during that same span.
Polanco has one All-Star season to his credit. Back in 2019, at 25 years old, Polano hit .295/.356/.485 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. Polanco even received some MVP votes that season. During India's Rookie of the Year campaign in 2021, he hit .269/.376/.459 with 21 homers and 69 runs batted in. Polanco's fWAR in 2019 was 3.3, while India's fWAR in 2021 was 3.1.
Jonathan India's contract situation is much more appealing than Jorge Polanco's
So while India's 4.8 combined fWAR from the past three seasons is less than Polanco's 7.5 fWAR, there are other factors that would seem to favor India. The Reds second baseman is three years younger than the newly acquired Mariners infielder, and much less expensive.
India, 27, is in the first year of his arbitration window that will pay him no more than $4 million in 2024. Polanco is in the final guaranteed year of a contract that will pay him $10.5 million this season with a $12 million option.
That type of cost control for an All-Star caliber player like India would be tantalizing for any general manager looking to give up what it would inevitably cost to secure the infielder in a trade.
The Mariners-Twins trade suggests Reds' infielder Jonathan India is worth a Top 100 prospect
As for what the Mariners gave up in order to get Polanco. Bowen offers very little upside, DeSclafani could cover some innings for Minnesota next season, and Topa could emerge from the Twins bullpen and give the team some solid outings. DeSclafani's contract is up at the 2024 season and Topa is under team control through 2026.
But Gonzalez, a borderline Top 100 prospect, is the centerpiece of this deal for the Twins. The 20-year-old is already ranked among the Top 5 prospects in Minnesota's farm system according to MLB Pipeline. An international signee of the Mariners in 2021, Gonzalez posted a .933 OPS in Low-A Modesto last season before a late-season promotion to High-A Everett.
While the debate has raged all offseason among the Reds fanbase as to what type of return Cincinnati could expect if they traded India, Monday's deal between Minnesota and Seattle gives you a pretty good indication. Nick Krall should be able to nab at least a top prospect from an opposing team's farm system and some complimentary pieces as well.
While some fans still hate the idea of trading Jonathan India, if the Cincinnati Reds were able to get that type of return, they need to make that deal. During the Baseball Insider's Podcast, FanSided's Robert Murray, who'd heard rumblings of the Mariners' potential trade all day on Monday, believed a deal would include either Polanco or India.
In the end, the Mariners decided on Polanco. Were the Reds on the other line when Jerry Dipoto agreed to the deal with the Twins? Who knows? But with the framework for such a deal now in place, Krall has the blueprint for what the Reds should expect in exchange for India if he's traded this offseason.