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12/02/09 10:54 PM EST

Red Sox showing interest in Polanco

Former Gold Glove Award winner wasn't offered arbitration

BOSTON -- While the Red Sox continue to discuss how to best align their middle infield for the 2010 season, one intriguing name that has surfaced is second baseman Placido Polanco.

However, by the end of Wednesday, MLB.com learned that the Phillies had the inside track on Polanco, making him their top target to replace Pedro Feliz at third base. The Astros are another team that has inquired about Polanco's services.

According to a Major League source, the Red Sox had expressed interest in Polanco when the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration by Tuesday's midnight ET deadline. That means that any team that signs him won't need to provide a compensatory Draft pick.

The Phillies have been very aggressive in their pursuit of Polanco, a free agent who played for Philadelphia from 2002-05.

For the Red Sox, Polanco is more of a fall-back option if they can't find a shortstop and opt to move Dustin Pedroia to that position, opening a vacancy at second base.

Polanco has won the American League Gold Glove Award two of the past three years. Pedroia broke up his string in 2008.

Of course, Polanco is also a solid hitter, with a career average of .303. He hit .285 in 2009, including 10 homers and 72 RBIs.

Polanco is 34 years old, the same age as another middle-infield Type A free agent the Red Sox are pursuing -- Marco Scutaro.

If the Red Sox sign Scutaro, it would require a Draft pick, because the Blue Jays offered him arbitration.

But the advantage of Scutaro is that the Red Sox could have both of their middle infielders at the positions they excel at defensively. While Pedroia played shortstop in college and in the Minor Leagues, it remains to be seen if he could make as much of an impact at that position as he has at second base.

The Red Sox are also exploring other options. According to reports, Mark DeRosa, Adam Everett, Adam Kennedy and Bobby Crosby are all players Boston has expressed interest in.

DeRosa, who can play second base, as well as the corner infield and outfield spots, could be an enticing option. Splitting last season between the Cardinals and Indians, he belted 23 homers. He is a Type B free agent and was not offered arbitration by the Cardinals.

Another Type A second baseman who wasn't offered arbitration and therefore could be signed without Draft compensation is Orlando Hudson. Playing for the Dodgers in 2009, Hudson hit .283 with nine homers and 62 RBIs.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Todd Zolecki contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.