The Minnesota Twins’ opportunity to prove 2017 wasn’t a fluke is off to a rough start. The team will be without starting shortstop Jorge Polanco for 80 games following he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Polanco was suspended by the league after testing positive for Stanozolol. In a statement, Polanco said he unknowingly used the substance. He reportedly asked his athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic for a legal supplement, and was given something tainted. He will not appeal the suspension.
Jorge Polanco has issued a statement: pic.twitter.com/tb32WrhjEM
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) March 18, 2018
While Polanco is far from a superstar-caliber player, his suspension puts the Twins in a bind. The 24-year-old is coming off his finest season in the majors, in which he hit .256/.313/.410, with 13 home runs and 13 steals. All that added up to a 1.6 fWAR.
However, he seemed to turn a corner at the end of the season. Polanco slumped early, hitting .213 on Aug. 1. He picked up his game down the stretch, hitting .316/.377/.553 the rest of the way, as Brandon Warne pointed out at FanGraphs.
Without Polanco, the team likely rely on Eduardo Escobar as the primary option at the position. Escobar also had a 1.6 fWAR, so he might be able to offer similar value. The team could also look to bring back J.J. Hardy, who is currently available on the free-agent market. The 35-year-old was brutal in 2017, but posted a 2.4 fWAR in 2016. If he still has his glove, it could make sense.
After going from 103 losses to the postseason in 2017, it doesn’t look like things will get much easier for the Twins in 2018.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik
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