Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, the two longest-tenured Twins players, have been linked throughout their pro baseball careers.

They were each other's first roommates in minor league spring training as teenagers in 2010, Kepler signing out of Germany and Polanco out of the Dominican Republic. Nine years after they created a bond without speaking the same language, they had their contract extensions with the Twins announced on the same day.

Now the two players might be at the center of the Twins' offseason.

The Twins hold a club option for both players, a decision that must be announced within five days after the World Series. Based on how the two played at the end of the year, this is probably the easy part. Kepler is owed a $10 million salary for 2024 or a $1 million buyout, while Polanco comes with a $10.5 million salary and an identical buyout.

A strong second half from Kepler and Polanco, perhaps, solidified the decision on their club options.

"We walked in with a lot of confidence in both those guys, so maybe more external questions than internal questions for us," said Derek Falvey, the Twins president of baseball operations. "Those are two really good players. We've known those guys longer than probably almost anybody in that room, and we're proud of what they both accomplished."

Assuming the Twins pick up the club options for both players, which is the expectation around the league, Kepler and Polanco might hear their names involved in trade rumors throughout the winter.

The Twins have solid infield depth with Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis locked into the left side of the infield and Edouard Julien at second base. Polanco is probably ticketed for a super utility role in which he plays regularly at multiple positions. Class AAA infielders Brooks Lee, the Twins' first-round pick in 2022, and Austin Martin figure to compete for roles next summer.

If the Twins want to parlay their surplus of infielders into more pitching, expect opposing teams to ask about Polanco. It's a weak free-agent class for position players, particularly at second base. Polanco, a switch hitter who batted .255 with 14 homers and 48 RBI in 80 games, has a $12.5 million club option for 2025, which increases his trade value despite playing only 184 games over the last two years.

"Polo really put himself in a good position toward the end of the year physically, and that was huge," Falvey said. "He was obviously a big part of our postseason performance."

It was at least a mild surprise when the Twins didn't trade Kepler last winter with the glut of lefthanded-hitting corner outfielders on the roster. It's still a surplus area with Matt Wallner, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach.

Kepler bounced back in a big way this year, hitting .260 with 24 homers, 22 doubles and 66 RBI in 130 games while playing strong defense in right field.

"The way the team played in the second half, I think, reenergized Kep, but it also worked the other way around," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think Kep reenergized the team. It was pretty amazing how that all happened at the same time. Watching the emotion on his face, the way that he played in the last few months of the season, it was great. It made me smile all the time in the dugout watching him out there."

If the Twins exercise Kepler's option, he will be a free agent after the 2024 season.

The Twins kept faith in Kepler when he struggled through the first half of the season. He was batting below .200 as late as June 29 before he went on an offensive tear over the last three months. By the postseason, Kepler was hitting cleanup in the Twins lineup virtually every game.

"I know his personality isn't always the most bubbly, so to speak," Falvey said. "But does he care? Absolutely. No one cried harder against my neck when I hugged him at the end of [the season] than Max. I think it's because he knows how hard it is to get here and the impact it has on our fans and our community, even if he doesn't always voice that the same way."

The other option for the Twins is to hold onto their two cornerstone players for another season.

Kepler and Polanco, both 30 years old, shared a podium for a pregame press conference during the American League Division Series, just like they did when they signed their contract extensions. Kepler took the opportunity to tell his teammate, the one he's known the longest, he was grateful to play beside him.

"To have started with so many guys that were gifted and talented that have either gone to other teams or aren't playing anymore ... it's very special to be here with you, bro," Kepler said, turning to his teammate. "It's been over 10 years now, almost [14] years together."

Polanco chuckled and responded, "Same, bro. Same."

Kepler, turning to the front of the room, finished what he wanted to say: "I'm proud of this guy."