This one hurts.
It's hard to describe exactly how much Polanco has meant to the Tigers since he joined the team midway through 2005. He wasn't really the heart of the team, or the soul, or the player that sparked the turnaround of the franchise, or any of those things. Yet at the same time he has been a rock for the Tigers for the better part of 5 years. His consistency at the plate and his sure-handedness in the field are the type of things that make him one of the most valuable players in the game.
Too valuable, I'm afraid.
By not offering arbitration to Polanco, the Tigers have hitched their wagon to prospect Scott Sizemore, their 2009 Minor Leaguer of the Year and a player with tremendous potential. I think many Tigers fans understand the move. The team needs to get younger and less expensive and Sizemore is the Tigers' most major-league ready prospect. Still, I don't think that I'm alone in wishing that there was a way to keep Polanco around. Personally, I would have liked to have offered him arbitration for one reason: If he declines, you are in the same position as you are now, plus a couple draft picks. If he accepts then you only have a one-year contract and can ease Sizemore into the role as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Alas, that was too risky a proposition for Dave Dombrowski who, it seems, has made the first move that shows that the team is actually constrained in how much they can spend this year. I just hope that the money that they don't spend on Polanco goes toward retaining a quality shortstop for a season or two.
In all, this is a somber day in Detroit. Polanco was a beloved player who meant a lot to the Tigers and I'm just one of many who is sad to see him go.
And with that, the number of starting position players from the 2006 team is down to 4.