The Philadelphia Phillies will be moving on from Placido Polanco this offseason, as the veteran third baseman’s three-year deal with the club expires after the season. There is a mutual option for $5.5 million for 2013 but it’s highly unlikely the team picks that up considering how much he’s struggled as of late.
The Phillies could always give Kevin Frandsen a shot to win the starting job next year but it seems doubtful he will duplicate the success he had this year over 162 games. Other options include players like Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins, should either be willing to move across the diamond.
And then there’s Adrian Beltre, who will just be entering the third year of a five-year contract next year, and can provide the Phillies with what they desperately need – a right-handed power bat at the third base position. Since 2010, the Phillies have the second-fewest home runs (30) at the third base position in baseball, and they need an upgrade over Polanco and even Frandsen.
Beltre is a serious MVP candidate this season, as he’s hitting .318 with 27 home runs and 84 RBIs. He has a .543 slugging percentage and a .897 OPS that makes him still one of the game’s elite players at the age of 34, and he’s also an elite defender at the hot corner position. Beltre has a .970 fielding percentage that ranks second in the league, and that – coupled with his offense – makes him one of the 30 best players in baseball.
Beltre is set to earn $51 million over the next three seasons plus a $16 million vesting option for the 2016 season, and while that’s a lot of money to pay, Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has never been remotely shy about dishing out a big contract to upgrade a position.
I’m not sure what it would take for the Rangers to part ways with Beltre. From a financial standpoint, it would free them of a great deal of money, and the team does have two extremely talented prospects in the waiting – third baseman Mike Olt was the 43rd ranked prospect before the season, according to Baseball America, and shortstop Jurickson Profar was just recently named the game’s No. 1 overall prospect and then homered and doubled in his first two big league at-bats at the age of 19.
The Rangers are going to want Profar in their starting lineup in 2013, but considering he plays shortstop, that means they will likely have to deal Elvis Andrus as well. The New York Yankees are easily the logical choice, as Derek Jeter is still an elite hitter but his defensive skills are rapidly declining to the point that he’s now a major liability in the field. Trading Beltre to the Phillies would allow Olt and Profar to be the starters as soon as 2013.
Olt is really struggling in the major leagues, as he’s just 4-for-25 (.160), but that’s also a ridiculously small sample size, and he’s 24 years old so the Rangers aren’t going to want to delay the process of starting him regularly. And the team does still have DH/super utility man Michael Young signed through the 2013 season at another $16 million, so Young could help spot Olt or Profar should they struggle at all as official MLB rookies.
I don’t know what the Phillies would have to give up for Beltre but I imagine a medium prospect like Triple-A starting pitcher Jonathan Pettibone or Julio Rodriguez might do it. I’m sure Beltre wouldn’t be worth $18 million by the time 2015 rolls around, but if he can help deliver another World Series championship to Philly, it’s worth overpaying for him, especially as he fills a critical position.