Phillies, Placido Polanco agree to three-year deal

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Various sources are reporting that Placido Polanco and the Phillies have agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for 2013. Polanco was not offered salary arbitration by the cash-strapped Tigers, allowing the Phillies to sign the Type A free agent without surrendering their first-round pick.
Despite being a two-time Gold Glove winner at second base Polanco will shift across the diamond to third base in Philadelphia, manning a position that he hasn’t played regularly since 2002. In the seven seasons since then he’s logged a grand total of 332 innings at third base, including zero since 2005, but he certainly projects to be an above-average defender there.
The same may not be true offensively, because the MLB average for third base this season was .265/.335/.421 and Polanco hit just .285/.331/.396. His combined .310/.356/.424 line over the past three seasons would put Polanco safely above average at third base, but his OPS has gone from .846 to .768 to .727 during that time and he’s 34 years old.
Polanco should be at worst an average all-around third baseman in 2010, which would be a clear upgrade over Pedro Feliz and certainly worth $6 million, but his age and the length of the contract make it a risk for the Phillies. Philadelphia has committed to paying him $6 million per season through the age of 36 and the 2013 option covers his age-37 season. My guess is that the Phillies won’t want a 37-year-old Polanco getting everyday at-bats regardless of position.
Philadelphia figures to use Polanco as a No. 2 hitter, pushing the switch-hitting Shane Victorino into more of a run-producing spot while making the lineup less dominated by left-handed bats. As for the Tigers, they say goodbye to Polanco after five seasons of .311/.355/.418 hitting and strong defense while likely turning second base over to prospect Scott Sizemore, although the 24-year-old is currently recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the Arizona Fall League.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.