It's not often that one move can affect three positions, but the Twins have managed to pull it off.
While most of the offseason attention has been on pitching upgrades and the possible return of Nelson Cruz, the Twins on Sunday officially signed their new shortstop, Andrelton Simmons. The four-time Gold Glove winner will give them one of the better defensive units in the game.
"His résumé speaks for itself on many levels," said Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations.
In addition to the Gold Glove awards, Simmons won the 2013 Platinum Glove for being the best defensive player in the National League when he was with Atlanta. According to Sports Information Solutions, his 191 defensive runs saved since 2011 are the most in the game — 56 better than the next player.
With center fielder Byron Buxton — himself a former Platinum Glove winner — third baseman Josh Donaldson and right fielder Max Kepler also on board, the Twins have strong defenders at four positions.
"If you are a fan of defensive baseball and some incredible highlight plays and Gold Glove and Platinum Glove defense, keep an eye on center field and shortstop this year," Falvey said. "Not to mention guys like Josh Donaldson and Max Kepler, who have had real good defensive seasons over the course of their careers."
Simmons said a few teams were interested in his services and told his agent just to find the best fit for him.
"You can't go play with somebody that doesn't show appreciation for what you do," said Simmons, 31 and a native of Curacao. "I think the Twins showed that. They also are a team that the last couple years have shown that they belong in the conversation of the best of the best teams because they've been consistently winning their division, competing for a playoff spot.
"They've been a team that whenever they came in town the last couple years I've been playing in Anaheim, they gave us some headaches, so I'm glad I don't have to deal with that right now."
The fallout from the move sends Jorge Polanco from shortstop to second base, where he's probably a better defensive fit. Polanco, an All-Star at short in 2019, started 193 games at second base in the minors, so his familiarity with the position will help the transition.
That will shift Luis Arraez from second base to what manager Rocco Baldelli likes to call "an everyday multi-positional player," a term he used to describe Marwin Gonzalez's role when the Twins signed him before the 2019 season. Arraez will play second, third and some left field. While Gonzalez batted .211 last season before leaving as a free agent, Arraez hit .321 and is a .331 hitter through 124 major league games.
"At the outset of the offseason, fans may not have looked at our team as having a need at shortstop," Falvey said. "Jorge Polanco has played there the last few years and was an All-Star a couple of years ago. We felt really good with him in the middle of the diamond.
"As we thought about going through the season, we have flexibility, and the benefit of building a roster this way is that when you have an inevitable injury, which every team deals with, or some issue you aren't expecting, you have the ability to potentially put in a regular. Not necessarily a true backup but someone who can go fill in a regular way and impact your team offensively and defensively.
"Our view of Andrelton was he added a few layers to our club."
Before the move was made, the Twins spoke with both Polanco and Arraez to explain their reasoning and how they would be used in the new alignment.
"Polo, he stepped up almost immediately as a teammate, as a competitor," Baldelli said. "He said, 'I want to be the best second baseman I can be. If that's what's best for the team, I want to do what's best for the team. I want to win.'
"He said, 'You know that,' and you know that's who he is as a person. And Polo proved that he can play a major league shortstop and do it well. Is that always easy for guys to take, when you've proven you can do something? No, but it really shows his character, it shows who he is, and frankly any time we do need him to play shortstop, he said on the phone, 'Any time you need me to play, I will be there to play.'
"And Luis echoed the same sentiment: 'Whatever you need me to do, I'm going to be ready. Any time I'm in the lineup, wherever I'm playing, I'm happy. You know that. I'm going to be ready to go.' So it makes things easier on the staff and on the organization when you have guys with that kind of character who are willing to do anything to win."