Marlins’ cleanup hitter might be … Placido Polanco

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Giancarlo Stanton is going to be pitched around a ton this season, so who the Marlins pick to bat behind him in the cleanup spot is an important decision. And first-year manager Mike Redmond told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that he’s giving serious consideration to using Placido Polanco.

Yes, that Placido Polanco.

Polanco is 37 years old, hasn’t topped a .400 slugging percentage since 2008, hasn’t topped a .350 slugging percentage since 2010, and hasn’t topped 10 homers in a season since 2004. So why in the world would Redmond want him hitting fourth, behind Stanton?

I like Polanco hitting there. He gives you a veteran bat, a guy who puts the ball in play. He can hit behind runners, he can hit and run. He handles the bat well. He might be a nice fit behind Stanton. … If they’re going to pitch around him, at least we know we’ve got a guy who can put the ball in play, and he can drive in runs. Sure, it’s not going to be via a home run. It’s going to be a professional at-bat, and a guy who can keep the line moving.

The notion of doing a bunch of hit-and-runs with the 6-foot-6 Stanton on first base and Polanco at the plate is doubly odd and the idea that Polanco “can drive in runs” despite his lack of home run power is funny considering he’s driven in more than 70 runs once in 15 seasons.

It’s probably not worth being too hard on Redmond yet because he may not even end up using Polanco in the cleanup spot once the games actually start and it’s not like he has many other appealing options, but … yeah, not a good idea.

Carter Stewart will get $7 million over six years to play for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Associated Press
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Yesterday we wrote about Carter Stewart, the American pitcher who, after failing to sign with the Braves last year, went to junior college. Rather than re-enter the draft this year, Stewart has signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.

Jeff Passan of ESPN has the details on that deal: $7 million for six years. That’s five million more than the lowball offer the Braves gave him after drafting him last year and over $2 million more than he would’ve gotten if the Braves had paid him slot last year. This year he was projected to be a second round pick, Passan says, so his slot bonus would’ve been under $2 million.

As Passan notes, though, he has the chance to make out far better than that, though. That’s because his six-year deal would allow the now-19-year-old Stewart to come back to the U.S. as a 25-year-old free agent via the posting system. Passan does some back-of-the-envelope figuring, comparing what he’d make in the U.S. had he stayed vs. the $7 million he’s now guaranteed in Japan:

In a near-optimal scenario, Stewart would receive around $4 million for the next six years — and would not reach free agency until after the 2027 season, when he will be 28. His deal with the Hawks would guarantee Stewart $3 million more and potentially allow him to hit free agency three years earlier.

He could flame out, of course. The Braves’ lowball offer was based on concerns about his wrist. Even without that, there are no guarantees when young arms are involved.

But there is a $7 million guarantee for Stewart now, and the chance to do better than if he had stayed in the U.S. And the opportunity was created, in large part, by Major League Baseball’s clamping down on pay for draft picks and doing whatever it can to extend team control over players via service time manipulation. Stewart, and his agent Scott Boras, are merely exploiting an inefficiency in the market.