Placido Polanco Rumors
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.
Some Saturday morning links...
- Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post Dispatch says the Cardinals blew it by telling the fans and media that they'd make an aggressive attempt to re-sign Matt Holliday. How could they have blown it when there's still a chance he could come back?
- Both David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News and Scott Lauber of The News Journal looked at the Phillies' long-term payroll now that Placido Polanco is on board for the next three years.
- The Mets are among the teams on Jason Marquis' wish list, writes Ben Shpigel of The NY Times, and the team has reciprocated that interest. Shpigel adds that the Mets are trying to find a "sturdy starter" from a group that includes Marquis, Joel Pineiro, and Randy Wolf.
- The Rays have a week to decide whether they'll tender a contract to Dioner Navarro, and executive vice president Andrew Friedman "indicated this week he might need every hour until that deadline to make a decision," according to Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune.
- In a highly recommended feature by Tim Sullivan of The San Diego Union Tribune, former Padres' GM Kevin Towers indicated that he'd like to learn more about the AL, saying "I’d like to see how they do business, how you put an American League team together."
- Lynn Henning of The Detroit News says that the Tigers got nothing in return for Placido Polanco, but they could have if he hadn't played so well in the second half.
- With Chone Figgins on the verge of going to Seattle, the Angels may finally give Brandon Wood a chance to play, writes Bill Shaikin of The LA Times.
- ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes says that if Terry Francona has his way, Mike Lowell won't be moving to first. Lowell said he wouldn't rule out a move across the diamond earlier this week.
- The Orioles have been downplaying the posssibility of any major moves during the Winter Meetings, according to The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.
Links for Friday, as team execs and media folk pack their bags for Monday's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis...
- The Brewers signed Trent Oeltjen to a minor league deal, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Oeltjen, 27 in February, hit .303/.362/.500 in his third Triple A tour, playing the outfield corners.
- Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash spells out why his team won't be acquiring Roy Halladay, talking to McCalvy.
- MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets six minor league free agents signed by the Marlins, including Jesse Foppert, Vinny Rottino, and Hector Luna.
- The Pirates expressed "mild interest" in free agent pitcher Clay Hensley, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hensley, 30, spent the year at Triple A in the Astros and Marlins organizations, posting a 3.56 ERA in 124 innings.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post feels there's "still a good chance [Ross] Gload returns [to the Marlins] with a two-year deal."
- Darren Dreifort's five-year, $55MM deal tops Jeff Passan's list of the ten worst contracts of the 2000s for Yahoo.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues explains why the Yankees probably won't sign Rafael Soriano.
- In his Winter Meetings preview for AOL FanHouse, Ed Price says there was some discussion about a Tigers-Diamondbacks trade involving Edwin Jackson and Max Scherzer.
- ESPN's Buster Olney talked to rival executives who say the Tigers have not aggressively shopped Curtis Granderson.
- Olney doesn't think the Mariners will pay up for Jason Bay. He believes the Red Sox are "controlling the market" for Bay and Matt Holliday.
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals are "increasingly weighing spreading what it would cost to retain Holliday over several players." Bernie Miklasz of the P-D feels the Cards are "enacting their exit strategy from the Holliday sweepstakes." I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals make their best offer soon - let's say $110MM over six years - and entirely move on if Scott Boras rejects it.
- SI's Jon Heyman tweets that Nick Johnson is "drawing interest from the Giants, maybe Braves, and a half-dozen more."
- MLB.com's Corey Brock talked to former Padres GM Kevin Towers, who will meet with the Mets, Yankees, Mariners, and Red Sox at the Winter Meetings.
- ESPN's Keith Law isn't impressed with the Phillies' Placido Polanco signing. My initial impression upon hearing about the signing is that no other team would've valued Polanco that highly.
- MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that other teams have been more aggressive on Jamey Carroll than the Marlins. Other Carroll suitors include the Rockies, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, A's, Rangers, Pirates, Reds and Indians.
Some links for Thursday...
- John Manuel of Baseball America ranks all 30 MLB farm systems at SI.com. The Rangers, Rays and Giants top the list.
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick lists nine potential free agent bargains.
- Keith Law, Dave Cameron and Tyler Hissey don't like the Placido Polanco deal from the Phillies' standpoint.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have tentative interest in Xavier Nady and Ron Villone, who are both Scott Boras clients.
- Sam Borden of the Journal News wonders how many long-term contracts the Yanks can take on.
- The Yankees get the sense that Andy Pettitte isn't done yet, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
- They aren't expected to consider an extension for Joe Girardi this offseason.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that the White Sox have begun preliminary talks with arbitration-eligible reliever Bobby Jenks.
- Placido Polanco appears to be nearing a three-year deal with the Phillies, but the Astros have some interest in the Gold Glover, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
- Curtis Granderson tells MLB.com's Jason Beck that he doesn't let the trade talk get to him.
- The Rockies have tentative plans to meet with Rafael Betancourt's representatives this coming Monday, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- As Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, Donavan Tate, the Padres' third overall selection in the June draft, was injured in an ATV accident. He broke his jaw, but should be ready for Spring Training.
- Jason Marquis had a falling out with the Rockies, so Jon Heyman of SI.com suggests he isn't likely to accept the team's offer of arbitration.
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach explains why long-term deals are becoming less frequent in MLB.
- Juan Castro passed his physical, so his deal with the Phils is now offiicial, according to Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
12:18pm: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports that the deal is official.
11:44am: Stark reports that the deal will be complete once Polanco passes a physical.
9:35am: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki hears that the Phils are close to signing Polanco to a three-year deal worth $18MM. The contract, which is pending a physical, includes a mutual option for 2013.
8:44am: Stark hears indications that the sides are discussing a three-year deal.
THURSDAY, 8:23am: Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears that Polanco is "close" to a deal with the Phillies.
8:57pm: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark classifies Philadelphia's talks with Polanco as "very serious" and Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports concur. A source "with knowledge of the Phillies' intentions" tells the FOX duo that the NL champs could offer Polanco a two-year deal worth between $10MM and $12MM.
7:18pm: Now that signing Polanco won't mean parting with draft picks, one team after another is being linked to the infielder. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the Philadelphia Phillies are focusing on Polanco for their third base opening, as opposed to Adrian Beltre or Mark DeRosa. Zolecki acknowledges Houston's and Boston's interest, but writes that "it appears the Phillies are further down the line in their pursuit."
7:08pm: MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that Polanco has also "drawn serious interest" from the Houston Astros.
WEDNESDAY, 5:32pm: The Boston Red Sox have expressed interest in Placido Polanco, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne. A source tells Browne that the Tigers' decision not to offer Polanco arbitration yesterday landed the second baseman on Boston's radar.
Polanco doesn't seem like a fit for the Red Sox unless the team asks Dustin Pedroia about playing shortstop, as has been rumored. If Pedroia moved to short, the Sox could sign Polanco for second base without having to give up any draft picks, whereas signing a Type A shortstop like Marco Scutaro would cost the club their first-rounder. Browne notes that Pedroia has said he "would welcome" a move to the left side of the infield.
As Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe indicated earlier, and Tim reiterated today in our Red Sox offseason outlook, switching Pedroia's position is probably a last resort. It looks like the team is keeping all their options open though.