Placido Polanco Rumors
8:20pm: The Rockies are no longer interested in Polanco because they don't feel he can play second base, tweets Rosenthal.
TUESDAY, 12:16pm: The Phillies are not shopping Polanco and are only interested in trading him if they can't re-sign Jimmy Rollins, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Phillies refer to keep Rollins and Polanco on the left side of their infield, but they could add someone like Aramis Ramirez if Rollins leaves. Stark says the Phillies are willing to eat about a third of Polanco's contract, which equates to $2.4MM.
MONDAY, 11:50am: The Phillies are actively trying to trade third baseman Placido Polanco, a rival executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That'd open up third base for free agent Aramis Ramirez, for whom the Phillies are reportedly strong players. Polanco, 36, is owed $7.25MM through 2012.
In two seasons with the Phillies, third baseman Placido Polanco has struggled to stay healthy and on the field. Despite being named an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2011, manager Charlie Manuel says that he would be in favor of an upgrade at the position, writes MLB.com's Nate Mink.
"If we need to upgrade and we can, we should do it," the skipper said on Wednesday.
Polanco is guaranteed $6.25MM next season, but Mink writes that it shouldn't handcuff the Phillies from exploring other options at third base. Manuel doesn't think that the Phillies need a power bat at the position, but durability will be a major focus for the club this offseason.
Polanco underwent surgery yesterday to repair two sports hernias, which could sideline him for the beginning of the 2012 season. The 36-year-old played in 132 games in 2010 and just 122 this past year.
The latest on the Phillies, before they take on their intra-state rivals far from Pennsylvania...
- The Phillies' goal with Chase Utley is to avoid surgery at all costs, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- As Olney points out in a column at ESPN.com, this is the point in the spring where injuries have a good chance of impacting Opening Day rosters.
- The Phillies say they aren't worried about Placido Polanco, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The infielder, who is dealing with a hyperextended elbow, practiced yesterday and won't play in a game for at least two days.
- Former Phillies prospect Jason Knapp tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was healthy when Philadelphia sent him to Cleveland as part of the summer 2009 Cliff Lee trade. Knapp, still just 20, has recovered from shoulder problems to re-establish himself as one of Cleveland's top prospects.
7:30pm: According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Phillies haven't talked to the Nationals about Kennedy.
1:31pm: The Phillies learned today that Chase Utley will be out for several weeks due to thumb surgery, and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com chimes in with some possible replacement options. He notes that the replacement doesn't necessary have to be a second baseman (Twitter link), because the team can use Placido Polanco at that position once he's healthy. That opens up the possibility of a trade for a third baseman.
Rosenthal says that former Phillie Pedro Feliz is an unlikely target, citing a scout who says his bat speed is "gone." Feliz has hit just .229/.255/.317 in 255 plate appearances this year, and his trademark defense has declined back to a -4.3 UZR this season. The Fox Sports scribe throws the names of Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton, Jhonny Peralta, Adam Kennedy, and Jose Lopez into the mix (Twitter links). The Mariners are actively trying to move Lopez, according to Rosenthal.
For the now, Philadelphia will try to tread water with the combination of Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs at second and third, respectively. They've combined to hit just .222/.252/.338 in 222 plate appearances this season, and Jack Moore at FanGraphs chronicled just how big of a downgrade this is for the Phillies.
Today Chase Utley and Placido Polanco became the latest star infielders to hit the disabled list. Greg Dobbs and Brian Bocock got called up, but the Phillies will have options if they decide to pursue infielders who can help between now and the All-Star break, when Utley and Polanco may be ready to return.
The Red Sox and Rockies have been quiet since losing Dustin Pedroia and Troy Tulowitzki, respectively. The Red Sox acquired Eric Patterson, but so far neither club has made a major move. Since Polanco is hurt, the Phillies have a hole at third, but they may find themselves considering many of the same players who have been linked to the Red Sox and Rockies.
Adam Everett, Mark Grudzielanek, Garrett Atkins, Edwin Encarnacion and Akinori Iwamura are not on MLB rosters and could presumably be acquired for a small financial commitment. Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Tejada, Adam Kennedy, Willie Bloomquist and Mike Aviles are in the majors, but could be available. Ty Wigginton, Dan Uggla and Kelly Johnson would be expensive and the Phillies wouldn't have room for them once their injured players return.
It's not clear whether the Phillies will weather the storm like the Rockies or pursue a player who can start in Utley and Polanco's absence and fill in once Philly's stars return. Utley will see a hand specialist tomorrow, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). Until the Phillies know the severity of their second baseman's sprained thumb ligament, they can't do much more than scour opponents' rosters in case they need to make a deal.
Let's face it: if the Royals aren't going to give Alex Gordon a chance to play regularly when they are 11-21, 10 games out of first, and weeks shy of Memorial Day, he has fallen out of favor with the club. After just 38 plate appearances, the Royals sent Gordon - the player they once selected him second overall - to Triple-A to make way for... Alberto Callaspo.
But Gordon, still just 26, is a career .320/.433/.577 hitter in the minor leagues. Clearly, some team should take a flier on Gordon as a possible long-term answer at third base. Which teams are best suited to do so, and how much is it likely to cost?
- The Phillies seem like an interesting landing spot for Gordon, though not at first blush. Placido Polanco, after all, is signed through 2012. But Gordon could be an upgrade from Greg Dobbs at the very least. If Gordon fulfills his promise, the Phils could attempt to deal Polanco. More to the point, Gordon seems to fit the Phillies' template- his acquisition would be akin to the buy-low on Jayson Werth- and Philadelphia has depth in the farm system. A couple of their secondary pitching prospects could get it done.
- The Orioles have a combined zero homers from Rhyne Hughes and Garrett Atkins, so Gordon could appeal to them as an option at first. Corner infield prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell lurk in the minors, but with Miguel Tejada locked up for just one year, Gordon would provide the O's with depth and upside.
- The Athletics don't have a ton in the way of a present or future player blocking Gordon. Kevin Kouzmanoff is a decent option, but he hardly has Gordon's upside at this point. With a number of nearly-ready pitching prospects to integrate into a young staff, the Athletics could well deal from pitching depth for Gordon, too.
- The Padres are another possible landing spot, with Chase Headley unlikely to keep up his batting average-fueled start. San Diego has several third base prospects, including James Darnell, who Baseball America ranked as the organization's third-best prospect heading into the season. Still, none of the Padres prospects have even proven themselves at Double-A, so acquiring Gordon and giving him the chance to win the third base job wouldn't impact any of them in the short-term. It would also echo the acquisition of another buy-low, former top draft pick: Adrian Gonzalez. A package of one of the Padres' third base prospects and a pitcher should be enough to pry Gordon loose.
With the signing of Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125MM deal, the scope of what the Phillies can do heading into the 2012 season has come into greater focus. And at the risk of hyperbole, the key takeaway may be: when the Mayans said the world would end in 2012, were they specifically talking about the Phils?
Let's take a look at what Philadelphia will be spending money on as the 2012 season dawns. Roy Halladay is signed for $20MM. Howard, too, is signed for $20MM. Chase Utley is signed for $15.3MM. Joe Blanton is signed for $10.5MM, Shane Victorino for $9.5MM, Placido Polanco for $6.4MM, Carlos Ruiz for $3.7MM, and almost certainly, Brad Lidge will be given a $1.5MM buyout.
That's $87MM going to seven players to play and one player to not play. And for their money, the Phillies will receive:
- The age-32 season of a first baseman whose numbers overall have been in decline through age 30, and whose difficulties against lefties make him a good deal less valuable against situational relievers late in games (Howard).
- The age-35 season of a pitcher who is dominant now, but will be 35 years old (Halladay).
- The age-33 season of a second baseman, a position that is notoriously tough on aging players (Utley).
- The age-31 season of a pitcher with a career 4.21 ERA (Blanton).
- The age-31 season of a center fielder whose value is largely tied to his legs (Victorino).
- The age-36 season of a third baseman whose value is largely tied to his defense (Polanco).
- The age-33 season of a catcher whose career OPS is .720 (Ruiz).
Now obviously, the above list merely points out the red flags of the players under contract. Perhaps all seven of them will perform in 2012 as they did in 2009.
The problem is that even if they do, the Phillies will need to make a relatively small amount of money go a long way.
Consider that the team traded Cliff Lee this past offseason, passing up a chance to have a 1-2 punch in the rotation of Halladay and Lee over concerns that Lee would cost C.C. Sabathia-type money ($23MM annually). It seems fair to assume that the money that would have gone to Lee went to Howard instead. In other words, the $140MM threshold the Phillies find themselves at right now isn't far from where they expect to be in 2012. Certainly, they had no intention of being at $160MM, which is where Lee plus Howard would have landed them.
But we want to be fair to the Phillies, so let's split the difference, and plan for a $150MM 2012 payroll. With $87MM gone, Philadelphia has $63MM left over for: three starting pitchers, six or seven relievers, a shortstop, a left fielder, a right fielder, and four or five bench players.
In other words, even without any decline from any of the seven players under contract that year, the Phillies are going to need a lot of their prospects step up. And if they decide to sign current right fielder Jayson Werth and shortstop Jimmy Rollins- both likely to cost $10MM or more annually and both entering their age-33 seasons in 2012- the entire remaining team will have to be low-cost options fresh from the farm system to make the numbers work.
And we haven't even discussed what Cole Hamels, signed for $9.5MM in 2011, is likely to get in 2012 in what will be his final year of arbitration.
With so many holes to fill, it is hard to believe that Philadelphia decided to put so much of its 2012 payroll into Ryan Howard. This analysis doesn't even get into the problems for the team when Howard pulls down a cool $25MM annually from 2014-2016 for his age 34-36 seasons.
For a team that has managed to position itself as the clear favorite in the 2010 National League, such success may be fleeting.
Placido Polanco certainly won't be hurting for money after signing a three-year deal worth $18MM with the Phillies this offseason, but if the Tigers had offered him arbitration, he probably would have accepted it according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.
"You know, if they would've offered me arbitration, I probably would've accepted it," Polanco said. "Probably. I didn't know what was out there. Most teams were waiting on that. Most teams wait on that, because the type of free agent I was, they have to give up a Draft pick. So that kind of worked out well for me."
After earning $4.6MM during his final season in Detroit, Polanco was probably looking at a $6MM salary or so if he had accepted arbitration and gone to a hearing. As a Type-A free agent, a team would have had to surrender a high draft pick to sign him if he turned down the offer. The Tigers had to weigh the pros of possibly landing two high draft picks against the cons of having Polanco on a one-year contract, likely at more money than they were comfortable paying him.
Several players, including Rafael Soriano, Carl Pavano, and Rafael Betancourt, accepted arbitration this winter instead of exploring the free agent market. They went for the guaranteed pay day over a shot at bigger money as a free agent. Several teams, such as the Dodgers and Yankees, chose not to offer arbitration to any of their free agents to avoid getting stuck with a player on an expensive contract, even if it was only for one year.
Links for Friday...
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News reports that Marcus Thames can opt out of his contract with the Yankees if he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training. Thames signed a minor league deal earlier this month that would pay him $900K in the big leagues.
- Alyson Footer, the Astros' Sr. Director of Social Media, tweets that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with infielder Tommy Manzella worth $400K. He's expected to be the team's regular shortstop in 2010, and he has less than a month's worth of service time.
- Mike Aviles and Anthony Lerew agreed to terms with the Royals according to a team press release. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star tweets that both deals are expected to be worth less than $500K. Both players are not yet eligible for arbitration.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins also agreed to terms with six of their pre-arbitration eligible players, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles' lefty Brian Matusz has changed agents, and is now represented by CAA Sports. He had a 4.63 ERA in 44.2 innings last year, and is widely considered to be one of the two or three best pitching prospects in the game.
- Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke about the Livan Hernandez signing to MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling, and said that the righty isn't guaranteed a rotation spot.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports polled nearly 20 baseball people about Carl Crawford's next contract. Many of the agents and executives expect Crawford to command a five-year deal worth $12-16MM per season, but some think the left fielder could make as much as $18MM per year when he hits the open market, probably after 2010.
- Scott Rolen was happy to restructure his contract so the Reds could "free up some money to go out and be more competitive," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Nationals pitcher Rafael Martin tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he agreed to his deal on February 8th (Twitter link).
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd told Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports that he wants his players to be driven by "more than money." O'Dowd also told Ringolsby that he did not shop Brad Hawpe this winter.
- The Mets are still looking at lefty and righty relievers, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (via Twitter).
- Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt tells Scott Lauber of the News Journal that he expects Placido Polanco to make a smooth transition to third base.
- Marlon Byrd tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he's uncomfortable being compared to friend and former teammate Milton Bradley.
- Big market clubs sent $433MM to small market clubs last year, according to Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball.
- The Red Sox don't generally use insurance on their long-term deals. Principal owner John Henry tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that "it isn't always easy to get paid," even once players are injured.
- Jose Julio Ruiz may be close to signing, but it won't be with the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane, who has "a huge amount of confidence" in GM Ed Wade, would consider selling his team for $600MM or more, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.
David Murphy offers up an insight into the Phillies issues this week, stating that the Phillies will likely be far less active than last year, when they signed Raul Ibanez, set their sights on Chan Ho Park, and extended Jamie Moyer. The Phils have already signed Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, and Juan Castro this offseason, leaving general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. with fewer needs during his trip to Indianapolis:
- Despite locking up Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and J.C. Romero over the past few seasons, the Phillies find themselves in need of relief help. As we all know, Lidge was dreadful in 2009 and is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery. Romero is coming off surgery as well and could miss a month of the season. Brandon Lyon is the team's primary target.
- Amaro has said adding a bench bat is bottom on his list of priorities, as the spot could be filled by recently-signed minor league free agent Dewayne Wise, or prospect John Mayberry Jr. Still, a move shouldn't be ruled out, according to Murphy.
- In regards to a No. 5 starter, the Phillies haven't ruled out a return for Pedro Martinez, but Murphy feels it is unlikely. While Kyle Kendrick was impressive late in the season last year, an alternative to him and Jamie Moyer wouldn't hurt.
- Murphy is interested to see the outcome of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday this week, given the Phillies' success there in the past. Perhaps you've heard of Shane Victorino? He turned out to be an OK selection.