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Did Philadelphia Give Placido Polanco Too Much? Yes.

This morning, Todd Zolecki of reported that the Philadelphia Phillies are close to signing Placido Polanco, who previously played his primary position of second base with the team earlier in the decade, to a three-year, $18M deal to replace Pedro Feliz as the team's everyday third baseman.

While the Raul Ibanez deal has worked out well for the Phillies thus far, it appears that the Phillies have continued their pattern of slightly overpaying veterans as they did with Ibanez, Jamie Moyer and Brad Lidge. While Polanco got an MVP vote this year, it's likely that the Phillies have overpaid slightly for some very underwhelming offensive performances from the hot corner. While Polanco has had some nice offensive seasons in his career, he's hit over .330 twice, he doesn't walk much, has practically no power, and his value on the basepaths is minimal. 

He posted a .285/.331/.396 line (.321 wOBA) in Detroit last season, although his BABIP was below his career norm. The biggest issue that I take with the signing is that the Phillies would be signing an above-average defensive second baseman with a slightly below-average bat to play third base. Polanco has a career UZR/150 of 10.0 at second base with a substantial sample size, and while you can't necessarily expect him to be worth 10 runs defensively next season, he's certainly one of the best defenders at second base in the game. The Phillies clearly expect that to translate to second base, where he's actually got a pretty solid statistical track record as well, with the +9.9 UZR/150 in 2426.2 innings at the position.

The Phillies are clearly attempting to replace Feliz's defensive value while going in a different direction offensively. Certainly, adding one of the better contact hitters in the game should help an offense that can get streaky at times, but it seems that the Phillies are giving a pretty large deal to a guy who's shown pretty clear offensive limitations, especially for a corner infielder. If Polanco can continue to be a plus defender at third, then he should come close to giving the Phillies full value, but he hasn't played third base since 2005, and he hasn't played it reguarly since 2002, so it's questionable if he's still capable of replicating that kind of defensive performance.

For a guaranteed $18M, it seems that the Phillies could have done better, looking at defensive sure-things like Beltre and Crede, who both offer significant power potential, who probably would've costed less, although the Phillies likely were sick of the all-or-nothing approach that Pedro Feliz, along with the aforementioned two, would provide. With Howard, Lee, Werth, Hamels, Blanton, Victorino, Madson and Rollins (essentially the entire core with the exception of Utley) all reaching free agency by the end of 2011, it seems odd to want to pay Polanco $6M in 2012 to play third base, although they should presumably have significant payroll flexibility by then unless they give big deal to Lee and Werth next offseason.