What if Placido Polanco is done?

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Trying to get by without their first baseman and second baseman, the Phillies aren’t receiving any help from their third baseman to date: Placido Polanco is hitting .179/.220/.205 in 39 at-bats.

Included in those 39 at-bats for Polanco are six strikeouts. That’s far from an excessive total for most players — Adam Dunn has already racked up three times that many — but it’s sure more than Polanco is used to. One of the game’s top contact hitters, Polanco has struck out once every 13.6 at-bats for his career. His rate this season is twice as high.

Now, 39 at-bats isn’t much of a sample size. But the Phillies were concerned about Polanco going into the season. There were even rumors they tried to ship him to Colorado, but that the Rockies didn’t want him because they weren’t convinced he’d last as a second baseman. Fighting injuries, Polanco lost 50 points of OPS last season, hitting .277/.335/.339 in 469 at-bats. His games played dropped from 153 in 2009 to 132 in 2010 to 122 last year.

The Phillies don’t necessarily need big numbers from Polanco. They like him as a No. 2 hitter, but once they get Chase Utley back, they could just go ahead and drop him to the bottom of the order, with Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Utley occupying the top three spots. They do need Polanco’s defense at third base: the drop off to Ty Wigginton there is huge.

So while replacing Polanco probably isn’t the answer, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if this is it for him as a regular. He’s 36 and increasingly injury prone. Transitioning to a reserve role might be the best thing for him in 2013.

On the other hand, he does have one point in his favor. According to Baseball Reference, his most similar player through age 35 is Julio Franco, suggesting he has another 10-12 years of baseball in front of him.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.