Placido Polanco has played primarily at second, third and short in his major league career with a few jaunts in left field and even one game at first base. But over the past four seasons, Polanco has been a second baseman; that's it. Nothing more, unless you want to factor in one game as a designated hitter. The last time that Polanco has ever played third base on a regular basis was when he came over to the Phillies in 2002 and played 53 games at third with the Phils. Since then, he's played a total of 43 games at the Hot Corner.
So, would he be willing and able to return to third base? Polanco has played it pretty close to the vest, but has said that he "would prefer" to stay at second base. That's not to say that he wouldn't embrace a move to third, but obviously, he's found a certain comfort level at second and figures it's the best place for him to play.
There might be another change that Polanco would have to make if he were to return to Philadelphia as a free agent. Polanco has also taken 85% of his at-bats as a major leaguer in the second spot in the lineup. Would the Phillies put him where he's comfortable in the batting order, even if it would mean adjusting where Shane Victorino would hit?
It's likely that the Phillies would look to put Polanco in the number two spot in the order and potentially look to move Victorino into the leadoff spot. That would allow the Phillies to drop Jimmy Rollins lower in the order, pulling him away from a role as the club's leadoff man that he has never completely embraced. A look at the numbers though suggests that the Phillies might be better off making Victorino the guy who drops in the order.
In his major league career, Victorino has primarily hit in the number two hole and has a career .289 average when he's batting second. That number drops to just .227 (42-for-185) as a leadoff man, but jumps to .339 (78-for-230) when he's hitting sixth in the order. The problem there is that with Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth batting behind Ryan Howard, the sixth spot isn't exactly clear.
The fact is that Polanco, while a great player who was very popular in his tenure with the Phillies, doesn't completely fit on this Phillies club. They'll be sort of shoe-horning him into the lineup both defensively and offensively and if that causes too much discomfort for Polanco - or others in the lineup - it could come back to hurt the Phillies.
With Polanco reportedly seeking at least a two-year deal worth between five and six million per season, the cost of Polanco would just about equal what the Phillies would have given Pedro Feliz in 2010. Polanco became a lot more interesting to the Phillies when Detroit declined to offer him arbitration, which means the Phillies - or any other team - wouldn't lose a draft pick if they were to sign Polanco. With the potential of losing a draft pick gone, the Phillies pushed Polanco to the top of their wish list for third base, which is the most glaring hole on the Phillies roster right now.