Twins’ Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler agree to long-term extensions: report

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Jorge Polanco will be sticking in Minnesota for the long haul. | AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

The Twins are locking up shortstop Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler with long-term contract extensions, according to the Star Tribune. The deals are expected to be announced at a press conference scheduled for Friday morning.

Polanco’s deal will run through the 2023 season and include $25.75 million in guaranteed money. It will also include a pair of team options for the 2024 and 2025 seasons that could keep the shortstop in Minnesota for another seven years. Kepler’s deal will be even richer, with the outfielder receiving $35 million over the next five seasons plus an option for a sixth year worth $10 million.

Each move would provide Minnesota with cost certainty for two of its top young players.

Polanco, 25, missed a major portion of the 2018 season after being suspended 80 games by MLB for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He had tested positive for Stanozolol, and while he immediately filed an appeal of the punishment after it happened, he quickly dropped the appeal in favor of accepting his suspension.

“I know how everything happened and the details, but today is not the day to discuss those things,” Polanco said at the time through a translator. “Today is the day for me to be here, and be in front of everyone with the Twins’ organization and my fans, and just apologize.”

Prior to his suspension, Polanco had been establishing himself as the Twins’ full-time shortstop. He set a career-high by playing 133 games in 2017, when he batted .256/.313/.410 and posted 2.2 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. And while he missed time last season, his batting line improved to .288/.345/.427 in 77 games.

The new contract will cover all of Polanco’s arbitration years and at least one year of free agency.

Kepler, 26, has emerged as one of the better defensive outfielders in the game. He’s also been consistent at the plate with an on-base percentage plus slugging percentage between .727 and .734 in each of the past three seasons. Last year, Kepler batted .224/.319/.408 with 30 doubles and 20 home runs in 611 plate appearances.

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