From 2002 to 2005, Placido Polanco was a consistent, dependable second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. When Chase Utley burst onto the scene, Polanco was regulated to splitting time at third base.
Now the 34-year-old is returning to Philadelphia, this time as the starting third baseman. The Phillies and Polanco have agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract. A mutual option for a fourth year is also included as well as $450,000 available in award incentives.
After Pedro Feliz's option was declined earlier in the offseason, the National League champions were rumored to be interested in Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Mark DeRosa and Polanco. When the Detroit Tigers declined to offer Polanco arbitration, the Phillies zeroed in on their man.
The familiarity with the organization and the dependability were key in the decision to sign the two-time Gold Glove winner.
Just as in 2008, when Phillies' fans were hoping to see the signing of a notorious left fielder to replace the departing Pat Burrell, many expected and preferred that Figgins, Beltre or DeRosa be signed. And just as he did last offseason, Ruben Amaro Jr. has taken the less popular route with Polanco.
That is not to say this is a poor decision.
Polanco has hit for a career .303 average and has yet to strike out more than 50 times in one season. He won a Silver Slugger in 2007 with the Tigers, was named the 2006 ALCS MVP and was named to the 2007 All-Star team.
He is likely the most affordable option at third base, leaving the team with more money available to bring in help to the rotation and the bullpen.
The bottom line is that Polanco is a step up from Feliz, is familiar with the organization, is consistent and dependable and came in for a cheap price.
This is merely the beginning of what is expected to be yet another interesting offseason in Philadelphia.