Phillies Turn to Polanco to Play Third

Inks 3-year deal, expected to play third base

The Phillies found a Gold Glover to fill the void at the hot corner but the guy has never won a Gold Glove at third.

The Phillies search for a new third baseman appeared to be over Thursday as former Phil Placido Polanco arrived in Philly to sign a three-year, $18 million deal to rejoin the Phillies.

NBCPhiladelphia's John Clark caught "Polly" at the airport as he got into Philly.

Polanco was glad to be back and "excited to join a championship team."

"I know they want to win and I want to win also," Polanco said. "I can help the team whatever it is -- mainly defense, put the ball in play and get on base for the big guys."

The deal included a mutual option for a fourth year, the Phillies said.

Polanco originally came to the Phillies from the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the Scott Rolen deal in 2002. He played some at third base and even tried out left field but spent most of his time at second.

He was traded to Detroit for Ramon Martinez and Ugueth Urbina in 2005 to make room for All-Star second baseman Chase Utley at second base.

The Dominican native went on to make an All-Star game of his own and win two Gold Gloves at second base for the Tigers.

In his career Polanco is a .993 fielder but that percentage dropped to .982 in the 322 games at third base. It's hard, though, to ignore the 186-game errorless streak he pulled off at second base -- heck the guy didn't commit a single error in 141 games in 2007.

And, Polanco's .982 fielding percentage is still much higher than the man's he would replace at the hot corner. Pedro Feliz is a career .964 fielder at third.

Polanco is "pretty comfortable" with the switch to third. "I played third base in college, I played in St. Louis and I played here," he said.

Polanco adds not only a great glove (though it could be rusty at third base) but also a .303 career batting average and one of the lowest strikeout/plate appearances ratios in baseball at 15.39.

He doesn't hit for much power, though, with only 90 homers and 579 RBI in more than 5,500 career at bats. But, with big boppers like Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez in the middle of the lineup Polanco only needs to get on base to score runs -- something he does well. He boasts a career .348 career on-base percentage and has averaged 91 runs per 162 games played.

Polanco can also hit on baseball's biggest stage. He is a career .296 batter with eight RBI and seven runs scored in 94 career postseason plate appearances. He also won the MVP of the 2006 ALCS.

“We’re very happy to have Placido back in a Phillies uniform,” said General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. “He’s a professional hitter who will enhance our lineup. As a Gold Glove infielder, we’re very confident that he will make a smooth transition back to third base. Polly also gives us some added versatility at second base if and when Chase needs a rest.”

Talks reportedly intensified between Polanco and the Phils Wednesday after the Tigers didn't offer him arbitration. It meant the Phils could sign Polanco without giving up draft picks, said Stark.

The signing also means the 2010 Phillies could take the field with at eight former All-Stars in the lineup (poor Carlos Ruiz)..

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