Just two days after he became a no-strings-attached free agent when the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration, Placido Polanco returned to his erstwhile baseball home by signing a three-year, $18 million contract with the Phillies yesterday.
In my offseason blueprint, I suggested that the Twins sign Polanco to a two-year, $9 million deal. I'm not surprised that I underestimated his annual value (though the $6M rate he got from Philly is not all that much higher than my estimate), but I am a little surprised he got a third year. Polanco is already 33 and it seems like there's a good chance the Phillies will be overpaying him by the end of this deal, particularly if his outstanding defense doesn't hold up while he ages and transitions to regular duty at third base, a position where he has played only 20 percent of his career defensive innings.
I obviously would have liked to see Polanco sign with the Twins, but at that length it probably wouldn't have been a wise move for Bill Smith, and considering how quickly the second baseman inked with the Phillies it seems likely that he was eager to return to the town where he broke into the big leagues anyway.
Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez remain as attractive but likely spendy high-end options at second base. On the next tier, you still have guys like Jamey Carroll and Adam Kennedy. Of course, Adrian Beltre also remains as a potential option at third base, with Nick Punto sticking at second.
Even with a desirable option off the board in the form of Polanco, many potential solutions to the Twins' infield vacancy remain on the board. Much depends on how much they're willing to spend, and how aggressive Smith is willing to be in his pursuit. I suspect we'll start to learn more about both of those uncertainties next week when the MLB Winter Meetings kick off.