Desperate for assistance at third base, the Marlins have acquired veteran infielder Placido Polanco, signing him to a $2.75 million, one-year deal. Polanco hit the free agent market after the Phillies declined their side of his $5.5 million mutual option.
The 37-year-old was plagued by a back injury last season, hitting only .257/.302/.327 in 303 plate appearances. Polanco has failed to match his career .299/.344/.403 slash line since 2008, which suggests that he likely won't meet that figure again. Positive regression from last year's performance can be expected, however.
Despite his declining offensive capabilities, Polanco still offers a strong defensive tool set. He won the Gold Glove at third base in 2011. Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced defensive metric, also indicates that he remains a capable defensive third basemen. According to the stat, he saved an average of 9.3 runs the past three seasons, making him a one-win player simply by virtue of his defense.
Bill James projects that Polanco will hit a respectable .279/.331/.368 next season. Combined with his defense, the Marlins can anticipate decent surplus value from this contract.
The Marlins expressed interest in Miguel Tejada and Brandon Inge, but ultimately rejected both those options.
The acquisition of Polanco means that the Marlins will no longer have to resort to a number of undesirable internal options to fill the third base position. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chris Coghlan, Donovan Solano, or Zack Cox spending significant time at the hot corner would have been an ugly sight.