Phillies Trade Rumors: Team Must Stick with Placido Polanco in Weak Trade Market
According to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, the Phillies "insist they do not have their radar out" for someone to take over for the struggling Polanco, but you never know what could be happening behind the scenes.
It's hard to believe there's much happening, though, with very few options on the trade market at the moment.
There is much more risk to shopping for a Polanco replacement than there is to keeping him, particularly since it's unlikely Philadelphia will find anyone better right now, and it's very likely this offense will regain its form once its injured stars return.
By looking for a replacement, the Phillies risk alienating their player, and if they get stuck with him for the rest of the season after that—well, that never turns out well. (See: Exhibit A, Nomar Garciaparra, Boston Red Sox.)
The last thing the Phillies need at the moment is another blunder or morale buster, given the recent fiasco stemming from Cole Hamels' intentional plunking of Bryce Harper. It's true that baseball is a business, but the organization can't afford to lose the trust of a player who, for the last two years, has been a pretty productive component of their offense.
There were already rumblings back in the winter meetings in December that Polanco was on the trade block. Though the team insisted that they were "not shopping" their third baseman, there were rumors that the Phillies would be open to trading him if they couldn't re-sign Jimmy Rollins and therefore needed to add another bat, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Is Polanco's current slump related to dissatisfaction with the team? Probably not. But it has been known to happen before.
This season is shaping up to be the worst full season of Polanco's career. He's currently hitting .270 with zero homers, six RBI and just five extra-base hits in 100 at-bats. At 36 years old, he boasts a career-low .305 on-base percentage (not counting his rookie year, when he played in just 45 big league games).
Should the Phillies shop for a Placido Polanco replacement?
And the Phillies look bad. They're in dead last in the NL East, two games below .500, five back from Washington's lead. But do they need help, or do they just need to wait for things to regulate?
For now, the team is opting for the latter. A Phillies official told Cafardo, "We’re just trying to hold our heads above water until we get our guys back."
It's a given that the Phillies need a productive Polanco now, while Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are out of the lineup and recovering from injuries. But until the heavy hitters are back, there's no way to know what the complexion of this team will look like down the long stretch of the baseball season, and in the meantime, Polanco can't be expected to shoulder the offensive load alone.
It's not fair to make Polanco the scapegoat in a lineup that is missing two of its most productive members. It's early—far too early to be panicking. Even Albert Pujols looks like a scrub right now, and no one's doubting that he's going to snap out of his offensive funk.
Polanco is a career .300 hitter, an All-Star and a Gold Glover who has the experience and the ability to turn things around. There's plenty of time left. And if the Phillies start shopping and it leaks—which it always does—they'll find themselves in a tricky situation they might not be able to salvage.
Having a struggling third baseman is much easier than having a bitter, angry one.
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