DALLAS -- The Phillies are feeling out other teams' interest in third baseman Placido Polanco, but are only interested in trading Polanco if they can't re-sign free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, sources told ESPN.com Tuesday.
After word spread at the winter meetings that Polanco was available, Phillies personnel made a point of telling several clubs Tuesday that they're "not shopping" Polanco. And an executive of one team said he was told, explicitly, that the 36-year-old third baseman is "not going anywhere."
But an official of another club that asked about Polanco said the Phillies' response was that their first priority is still to re-sign Rollins and keep their existing infield intact. If Rollins goes elsewhere, however, the Phillies believe they would have to add another significant bat. So one potential option would then be to trade Polanco and sign free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
However, the Phillies are willing to pay only about a third of the $7.25 million left on Polanco's contract ($6.25 million next year, plus a $1 million buyout of his $5.5 million option for 2013). And other teams believe the Phillies would have to eat more money in order to deal Polanco after an injury-plagued season in which he hit only .243, and with just 10 extra-base hits and a .287 slugging percentage, after April, then had surgery to repair a sports hernia after the season.
Despite the trade talk, the Phillies' first preference is to keep their infield defense at a high level. And they have serious reservations about Ramirez's glove at third base. But if Rollins signs with another club, they're currently leaning toward giving their minor league player of the year, shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis, a chance to win a job in spring training. So they would attempt to add offense either by signing Ramirez or a more versatile free agent such as Michael Cuddyer.
Senior writer Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.