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Phillies, Placido Polanco agree to three-year deal

Dec 3, 2009, 11:55 AM EDT

Various sources are reporting that Placido Polanco and the Phillies have agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for 2013. Polanco was not offered salary arbitration by the cash-strapped Tigers, allowing the Phillies to sign the Type A free agent without surrendering their first-round pick.
Despite being a two-time Gold Glove winner at second base Polanco will shift across the diamond to third base in Philadelphia, manning a position that he hasn’t played regularly since 2002. In the seven seasons since then he’s logged a grand total of 332 innings at third base, including zero since 2005, but he certainly projects to be an above-average defender there.
The same may not be true offensively, because the MLB average for third base this season was .265/.335/.421 and Polanco hit just .285/.331/.396. His combined .310/.356/.424 line over the past three seasons would put Polanco safely above average at third base, but his OPS has gone from .846 to .768 to .727 during that time and he’s 34 years old.
Polanco should be at worst an average all-around third baseman in 2010, which would be a clear upgrade over Pedro Feliz and certainly worth $6 million, but his age and the length of the contract make it a risk for the Phillies. Philadelphia has committed to paying him $6 million per season through the age of 36 and the 2013 option covers his age-37 season. My guess is that the Phillies won’t want a 37-year-old Polanco getting everyday at-bats regardless of position.
Philadelphia figures to use Polanco as a No. 2 hitter, pushing the switch-hitting Shane Victorino into more of a run-producing spot while making the lineup less dominated by left-handed bats. As for the Tigers, they say goodbye to Polanco after five seasons of .311/.355/.418 hitting and strong defense while likely turning second base over to prospect Scott Sizemore, although the 24-year-old is currently recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the Arizona Fall League.

  1. Jonny5 - Dec 3, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    This is awesome news! I love to see Polanco back in Philly. The guy is good fit with a great personality. His bat is still hot.

  2. Phil - Dec 3, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Great, another contract that’s longer than it should be to a player who is past his prime.

  3. jonny5 - Dec 3, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    kidding me right? Look at his BA. He’s a definate upgrade from what they had this season. Feliz was great at defense but his offense stinks! Polanco is a hard worker and I’m sure he has 3 good years left in him.

  4. Mike - Dec 3, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    I approve. Next.

  5. Big Z - Dec 3, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    This early signing reminds me of last year’s Raul Ibanez move. Three years for veteran. That worked out okay (so far).

  6. Grant - Dec 3, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    Wow, three years? Seems excessive.

  7. Anon - Dec 3, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    Three years is a little long. But Polanco is a valuable, well-liked guy, and my guess is he had other similar offers. It’s too early for the Phillies to outbid themselves, isn’t it? Anyway, Polanco’s good for at least one more year and probably two. They’ll deal with the third when they have to do so. Smart move by a good organization.

  8. Mcsoup - Dec 3, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    Great signing for two reasons: he doesn’t strike out, and he hits for average. He’s perfect for this Phillies lineup in that he’ll actually play the game the right way, you know, move the runners, take a pitch to give Rollins a chance to bag a base,etc… all the while hitting around .300. Think about the polar opposite of all that In Victorino, who sees the moon in the sky and swings at it, and you can see why this is an upgrade.
    Plus I love the potential of Victorino hitting after Ibanez ..gives you more run producing chances and speed at the bottom of the lineup.

  9. Ryan - Dec 3, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    This article didn’t make sense, Polanco and Feliz are both right handed so the team is no more or less vulnerable against lefties.
    Also moving Victorino to 7th doesn’t make sense he lead the team in hits and average and you want to move him to the bottom of the order?
    All in all I am ok with Polanco slightly better offense but slightly worse defense. I find it surprising that they are paying money more for him, Polanco had a career high of 72 rbis but last year Pedro had 82.

  10. Tom - Dec 3, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    I love Polanco, always have. But three years seems a bit much. However, I think it illustrates what the organization felt was a weakness: The need for a more balanced lineup.
    You’re right, Ryan, Polanco and Feliz are both right-hander batters. But Feliz took a very bad approach to hitting, often swinging at the first pitch, regardless of whether it was a ball or strike. And his 82 RBI notwithstanding, he was a terrible situational hitter, showing a complete inability to advance runners from second to third with a grounder to the right side.
    With Polanco, the Phillies get a prototypical No. 2 hitter to bat behind Rollins. Does he walk much? No. But he never strikes out, either. And that has always been another problem. The Phillies have enough power and enough run-producers. What they needed more of were table-setters. And Polanco fills the bill perfectly.
    And batting Victorino seventh will provide Ibanez more protection than Feliz, particularly because he’s a switch-hitter, thereby offering length to an already lethal attack.

  11. craig - Dec 3, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    ….
    how does replacing a right handed hitter (feliz) with a right handed hitter (Polanco) make the Phillies less of a left hand hitting team ?>????????

  12. LVW - Dec 4, 2009 at 2:48 AM

    I was thinking the same thing Craig. Polanco is a better fit on a team with a lot of power like the Phillies than Feliz.

  13. Paul - Dec 4, 2009 at 2:26 PM

    The LEFTY comment was probably geared at the fact that when a Right hander is on the mound against Philly, spots 1 through 4 (Rollins and Victorino switch hitters) makes it 4 lefties in a row.

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