There is a big question mark stamped next to the third baseman’s name for the 2013 season. It’s a position that hasn’t had a consistent inhabitant since Scott Rolen was traded in 2002.
A few guys like David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Placido Polanco were supposed to be main-stays. But only Polanco managed to make an All-Star appearance.
It’s also a position that has fielded the likes of Abraham Nunez, Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Ty Wigginton.
The future for third base still doesn’t look bright for the Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro already knows this, and he’s already tried addressing it at the deadline.
Philadelphia exercised the option of plucking top third base prospect Mike Olt from the Texas Rangers in a deal centered around Cliff Lee but nothing ever came to fruition for both clubs. Olt would have given the Phillies their first real third baseman since Rolen, and a prospect to be truly excited about since Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
They also were named as one of the teams interested in acquiring Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
Instead, they may need to go the route of temporary fix again with a couple of the options they have.
Polanco is a free agent, and could be a candidate to return and hit in the bottom of the line. His health has been a concern and he is no longer a .300 hitter who can give the Phillies 25-plus doubles.
But the glove is still there as Polanco is one of the best defensive infielders in all of baseball when healthy.
Then there is Kevin Frandsen, whose emergence into a Major League role has come out of almost nowhere.
Frandsen has played eight years in the minors, compiling a .310 average between Single and Triple-A. This year, he was hitting .302 with 34 doubles for Lehigh Valley before the Phillies called him up for a “try out.”
So far Frandsen’s tryout has been successful as the 30-year-old is hitting .351 with a homer and seven RBIs in 103 plate appearances.
But only four of Frandsen’s 33 hits this season are extra-base hits, and his history as a Major Leaguer tells a different story. (Frandsen is a career .258 hitter who is projected to only hit 20 doubles and five homers in a 162-game season according to Baseball-Reference.)
Not listed on that last link is Headley, but according to Cot’s Baseball he is available. If that’s the case, he is the only player available that would really be a step up from Polanco, but a lot of teams could be after him this off season because the third base market is so thin.
Players like Rolen, Brandon Inge and Miguel Tejada are available but are all older than 36. Then the better options in Kevin Youkilis, David Wright and Mark Reynolds all have options with their current teams that will likely be picked up.
Polanco has an option as well for $5.5 million and a buyout of $1 million, giving Philadelphia a safety valve just in case the market doesn’t shape up.
The way it looks, the Phillies may just hold onto Polanco and Frandsen while platooning the both. They also have a $4 million option for Ty Wigginton but could potentially buy it out for $500,000.
With all of that in mind, third base might just be the third position on their list behind the outfield and bullpen. Either way, it’s going to be an interesting and pivotal off season for Amaro.