Placido Polanco is putting aside his Gold Glove and switching positions to have a chance at winning a championship. Polanco returned to the...

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PHILADELPHIA — Placido Polanco is putting aside his Gold Glove and switching positions to have a chance at winning a championship.

Polanco returned to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, agreeing to an $18 million, three-year contract.

The 34-year-old free agent won Gold Gloves at second base for Detroit in 2007 and this year, but will shift to third base, which hasn’t been his primary position since 2002. He replaces Pedro Feliz, who became a free agent after the Phillies declined his $5.5 million option.

“I always wanted to be here; I never wanted to leave,” Polanco said. “One of the reasons I wanted to come back is because it’s pretty obvious the team is committed to winning. And I want to win. That’s it. They asked me if I was willing to play another position and I was, like, ‘Sure.’ I can play third base. I played in college, in St. Louis and I also played some third here. I feel pretty confident about it.”

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Polanco first joined the Phillies in the trade that sent Scott Rolen to St. Louis in July 2002. He hit .297 with 38 homers and drove in 160 runs in parts of four seasons in Philadelphia. Once Chase Utley become the regular second baseman, Polanco’s role was reduced.

Polanco was traded to Detroit in June 2005 for reliever Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez.

Polanco batted .285 for the Tigers last season with 31 doubles, 10 homers and 72 RBI.

“For him to come back to Philadelphia to change positions, it’s just one of the things he’s about,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.


• The Oakland Athletics seemingly took a step toward boosting their lackluster offense.

The A’s acquired third baseman Jake Fox, second baseman Aaron Miles and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs for three players.

The Cubs got right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray, minor-league outfielder Matt Spencer and minor-league righty Ronny Morla. The trade gives Oakland added depth in an infield that has been injury plagued in recent seasons, and Fox’s big bat to boot. While general manager Billy Beane hopes six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez will be healthy after season-ending back surgery, the Athletics knew they needed a contingency plan.

• The Atlanta Braves made another move to strengthen their pitching staff, agreeing to a $3.2 million, one-year contract with reliever Takashi Saito.

Saito, 39, has 83 saves in four major-league seasons after a long career in Japan. He made the NL All-Star team in 2007, when he had 39 saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season, the right-hander went 3-3 with two saves and a 2.43 ERA in a setup role for the Boston Red Sox.

Saito is expected to remain in that spot with the Braves, who signed closer Billy Wagner to a $7 million, one-year deal Wednesday, though there might be an occasional chance to save games.

• The New York Mets have agreed to a one-year contract with Chris Coste, 36, adding a backup catcher while they search for a starter.

Coste hit .224 with two homers and 18 RBI in 205 at-bats last season with Philadelphia and Houston. He has a .272 batting average, 23 homers and 108 RBI in 806 at-bats over four big-league seasons.

George Steinbrenner is taking an active part in the New York Yankees’ organizational meetings. Team officials met for around two hours with Steinbrenner at the Tampa home of the 79-year-old principal owner during the second day of team meetings.

George Steinbrenner has kept a relatively low profile since giving up day-to-day control of the Yankees to his sons, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, two years ago.

• Two groups have emerged as finalists to take over ownership of the Texas Rangers.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed several media reports that groups headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and former sports agent Dennis Gilbert are finalists.

Tim Esmay, a former Arizona State player and assistant coach, will be the Sun Devils’ interim coach next season. Esmay replaces Pat Murphy, who resigned Nov. 20 after 15 seasons.

Athletic director Lisa Love said she plans to conduct a national search for a coach after putting an interim staff in place.

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