THOMA COLUMN | Stopping short: The Twins after Simmons

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Jun. 28—By this time next month, the Minnesota Twins will be auctioning off veterans.

And they have plenty of them. The Twins entered the 2021 season with high hopes and an old squad.

Almost halfway through, they have a low record and a lineup increasingly riddled with rookies who weren't on the opening day roster.

One of the veterans still on the field is Andrelton Simmons, the 31-year-old shortstop with four Gold Gloves on his resume, a light bat and a one-year contract.

The Twins brought him in during the offseason to tighten the infield defense and buy time for Royce Lewis, the presumptive shortstop of the future, to develop.

It hasn't worked. Lewis' 2021 season ended early in spring training; his knee surgery almost certainly means he won't be the 2022 shortstop in Minnesota.

Simmons' defense still grades out well by the metrics, but he has had some costly miscues — a pattern shared by pretty much all of his colleagues.

A midseason trade to a contender seeking to shore up its middle infield is certainly plausible, even if the Curacao native doesn't add much at the plate.

Where would his departure that leave the Twins?

Jorge Polanco was Minnesota's primary shortstop from the middle of the 2016 season through 2020, but his skill set isn't ideal for the position. He is clearly better fit for second base, and moving him to the keystone was part of the perceived advantage to adding Simmons.

But he's kept his hand in at short — he's started 16 games there as of Sunday — and returning him there would create more playing time for Luis Arraez at his accustomed minor league position. A Polanco-Arraez middle infield would be limited defensively, but it would hit.

Then there's Nick Gordon, whose status seems to be rising again despite a dismal health record since he was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Gordon — unlike Polanco — was primarily a shortstop in the minors. But manager Rocco Baldelli has preferred to shift Polanco to short and play Gordon at second in lineups without Simmons. (And Gordon has seen considerable time in center in the absence of Byron Buxton.)

Gordon has been productive in his sporadic playing time with the Twins. I remain dubious about his chances of being a reliable regular in a major league lineup.

He's so slender, his injury record is not good, and his pattern of second-half fades suggests that he's just not durable enough for the long season.

The Twins have other shortstops in the system, of course, but the best prospects — Wander Javier and Keoni Cavaco — are both in Class A ball and aren't rocketing up the ladder.

If the Twins deal Simmons next month, we're probably looking at Polanco at short the rest of 2021.

It might be best for Polanco personally if the Twins just locked him in at second base, but it also would not be the best use of their personnel.

Edward Thoma is at ethoma@mankatofreepress.com. Twitter: @bboutsider.

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