Third base has long been a trouble spot for the Miami Marlins, but the team hopes Placido Polanco will at least provide stability there in 2013.
Polanco, who signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract Thursday, will be the Marlins' fifth new third baseman in as many years.
In 2012, Hanley Ramirez opened the season at third base to accommodate new shortstop Jose Reyes. The experiment lasted until July, when Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2011, Donnie Murphy was the Opening Day third baseman. Jorge Cantu played there at the start of 2010, and Emilio Bonifacio manned the position in the 2009 opener. The Marlins haven't had the same third baseman for two straight seasons since Miguel Cabrera served there in 2006-07.
Greg Dobbs can play the infield corners, but the team considers him more valuable off the bench player.
Polanco played in just 90 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 because of back problems. Depending on his readiness, he could compete for the job with Chris Coghlan and Zack Cox, among others.
The Marlins thought they had a third baseman when the acquired Yunel Escobar in the November deal that sent five Miami veterans to Toronto Blue Jays. However, Escobar told the Marlins he'd changed his mind about being on board with a position switch from shortstop to third base, which prompted Miami to trade him to Tampa Bay.
Instead, the Marlins turned to Polanco, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. The 37-year-old veteran hit .257 with 15 doubles, two homers and 19 RBI in 328 plate appearances this year. In his 15-season career, which includes time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, Polanco has a .299 average with a .344 on-base percentage and a .403 slugging percentage.
After last season, the Phillies declined a mutual option that would have paid Polanco $5.5 million for 2013, giving him a $1 million buyout.