According to a tweet from SI.com’s Jon Heyman, The Philadelphia Philles are expected to finalize a deal today with free agent second baseman (and now former Tiger) Placido Polanco. The deal is believed to be a three year pact that would pay Polly $18 million in total. The Phillies plan to use Polanco at third base, where he would replace free agent Pedro Feliz.
Personally, I’m glad Polly is getting paid. Since coming to Detroit from Philadelphia in a 2005 trade, Polanco has been the epitome of a professional. The successes enjoyed by Tiger fans certainly would not have been possible without the steady influence that Polanco brought to the lineup and to the infield defense. Scott Sizemore has got some big shoes (and one giant, oddly-shaped helmet) to fill.
For the Phillies, the plan to use Polly at third is not nearly as questionable as some would think. Before coming to Detroit, Polanco played third base regularly going back to his time in St. Louis and then with the Phillies. He hasn’t been a full-time third baseman since 2002, but for his career, fangraphs has his UZR/150 at a very good 9.9 over 2426.2 innings while manning the hot corner, compared to 10.0 in 8379 innings at second base.
The part I would question is the three years the Phils are giving Polanco. He’ll play next season at age 34 and any Tiger fan will tell you about his diminshing range defensively. Polly has battled back problems in the past and they flared up again as the 2009 season was winding down. Polanco shouldn’t have to cover as much ground at third, especially with the speedy Jimmy Rollins playing beside him, but I have to wonder how this deal is going to look in a couple years.
So to Polly, a phond pharewell. I wish you and your mis-shapen head all the luck and health in the world. Thanks for all the great defensive plays and all the timely hits over the past few years. You will be missed. And thank you, Polly, for not signing with the Twins.