The Miami Marlins have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent third baseman Placido Polanco, the team announced Thursday. He will fill a gaping hole in the team's infield left after the team traded former franchise player Hanley Ramirez in July.
According to The Miami Herald, Polanco's deal is worth $2.75 million.
The Marlins had originally planned to plug shortstop Yunel Escobar into the hot corner after receiving him in the latest fire sale trade from the Toronto Blue Jays. But after Escobar balked at moving from his natural position, the team traded him to Tampa Bay for a minor league infielder.
Polanco is a career .299 hitter who rarely strikes out and has won three Gold Glove awards (one in the American League, two in the National League). But injuries limited him in 2012 with the Philadelphia Phillies, who opted to buy out his 2013 contract for $1 million rather than pay him $5.5 million.
In 2012, Polanco hit .257 with a staggeringly low .303 on-base percentage. However, he was still the best free agent third baseman in the eyes of the Marlins, who were also considering over-the-hill players like Miguel Tejada and Brandon Inge.
The Marlins' internal options at the hot corner are Greg Dobbs and non-roster spring training invitee Kevin Kouzmanoff. The team prefers to use Dobbs off the bench as a pinch hitter, while Kouzmanoff spent all of 2012 on the Kansas City Royals' Triple A club.
Polanco's signing, a one-year deal, is clearly a stop-gap measure for a team facing a rebuilding year. Joining him in the Marlins' 2013 infield are young shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (received in the Blue Jays trade), second baseman Donovan Solano, and Logan Morrison, who will move to first base (his natural position) from the outfield.
This could be the last major move the Marlins make before spring training, unless they trade starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who is due to earn $11.5 million in 2013.