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.
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