Placido Polanco is under contract for $6.25 million next season with a $5.5 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2013, but manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that he’d like to see the Phillies find an upgrade at third base this offseason.
“If we need to upgrade and we can, we should do it,” Manuel told Nate Mink of MLB.com. “If we can stay healthy, it gets back to that being a key. Being healthy and being on the field is going to take care of a lot of things.”
Polanco missed 40 games with an assortment of injuries this season and underwent a pair of sports hernia surgeries earlier this week. And the 36-year-old also missed 30 games in 2009.
He’s still one of the game’s top contact hitters and remains able to post a solid batting average with decent on-base skills, but Polanco has managed just 11 homers and a .365 slugging percentage in 1,125 plate appearances since signing with the Phillies. During that time there are 24 different third basemen with at least 750 plate appearances and his .702 OPS ranks 20th, ahead of only Kevin Kouzmanoff, Miguel Tejada, Jose Lopez, and Brandon Inge.
Jimmy Rollins hitting the open market as a free agent will be the Phillies’ biggest infield issue this winter and finding a clear upgrade over Polanco may not fit into the payroll plans, but at the very least a quality backup seems likely to be on Ruben Amaro Jr.’s shopping list.
Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.
As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”
The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is entering his 25th season as a professional baseball player and his 17th in the major leagues. The 43-year-old is potentially under contract through the 2018 season if the Marlins choose to pick up his club option.
Few players are able to continue their careers into their mid-40’s. No surprise, Suzuki is the oldest position player in baseball. Only Braves pitcher Bartolo Colon, is older, and only by 51 days. Suzuki, however, wants to play until he’s 50 years old, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports.
“I’m not joking when I say it,” Suzuki said. He continued, “Nobody knows what the future holds. But the way I feel, how I’m thinking, I feel like nothing can stop me from doing it. When you retire from baseball, you have until the day you die to rest.”
When asked about what will happen when Suzuki finally does decide to retire, Suzuki responded, “I think I’ll just die.”
Last season, Suzuki showed he still has plenty left in the tank. He hit .291/.354/.376 with 21 extra-base hits, 48 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 365 plate appearances. If the Marlins’ outfielders stay healthy, Suzuki won’t be starting many games in 2017. He started in right field frequently during the second half last year, filling in for the injured Giancarlo Stanton.