THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE:
The Marlins plan to sign veteran third baseman Placido Polanco to a one-year, $2.75 million contract if he passes medical tests, an industry source said.
[UPDATE: The Marlins announced the signing at 3 p.m. today].
Polanco, who spent time on the disabled list with back problems last year, was among the most accomplished free agent third basemen remaining in a group of players largely past their prime.
Polanco, 37, hit .257 with two homers and 19 RBI in 90 games for the Phillies last season. He hit .277 with five homers and 50 RBI in 2011 and .298 with six and 52 in 2010.
He has won three Gold Gloves - at second base in 2007 and 2009 and at third base in 2011, when he committed eight errors and became only the second player to win the award at more than one position (joining Darin Erstad). He had only two errors in 80 games at third base last season.
Polanco, who resides in Miami during the offseason and attended Miami-Dade Community College, was voted a starter in the All-Star Game in 2007 and 2011 and was the 2006 ALCS MVP.
Overall, Polanco has hit .299 with 103 homers and 700 RBI in 15 seasons, with St. Louis, Detroit and Philadelphia. He passed the 2000 hit threshold last May.
The Phillies declined his $5.5 million option in October, opting to pay him a $1 million buyout instead.
Other free agent third basemen who were still available, and drew Marlins consideration, include Brandon Inge, Miguel Tejada, Matt Downs and Ryan Raburn.
Former big league third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and ace pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs also will be in camp for the Marlins, who prefer to use Dobbs as a fill-in player and pinch hitter.
Polanco's signing would firm up the Marlins' lineup, unless there are any more trades.
Miami likely will go with Logan Morrison at first base, Donovan Solano at second, Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop, Polanco at third, Juan Pierre in left, Justin Ruggiano in center, Giancarlo Stanton in right and Rob Brantly catching.
MAGIC ON HEAT
Asked if the Heat is bored with the regular season, Magic Johnson told me Thursday: "We never got bored [with the Lakers]. I don't buy into that they're bored. That can work against them later on. People are not giving the league credit for being better this season. It's different when you're the champion. Everyone will play extra hard when they're playing the champion. You might be tired or not up for the game. Those teams are up for you.
"They're going to be fine. They're still the best team in the East. Dwyane Wade is still one of the best big game players in basketball. The bigger the games, the better Ray Allen performs. At the end of the day, the championship goes through the Heat. They're the best team in the East. The Knicks are the second-best."
CANES, DOLPHINS, HEAT CHATTER
### The Hurricanes privately are pleased with the results of what amounts to a tight end swap in the past two days – losing Travis Johnson (ESPN’s 102nd-ranked high school prospect) and adding Beau Sandland (ESPN’s 12th best junior college prospect and No. 2 tight end).
The Hurricanes were optimistic they would get Sandland when Johnson de-committed on Tuesday but didn’t find out for sure until Sandland informed them on Wednesday morning that he was picking Miami over Nebraska.
Though UM – along with Purdue – have been considered the top candidates for Indiana-based Nate Wozniak (rivals.com’s 38th-best tight end), Sandland told canesport.com that the Hurricanes have told him that they will not recruit another tight end, beyond Sandland and previous oral commitments Standish Dobard (ESPN’s 138th-best high school prospect) and St. Petersburg-based Jeremy Kerr.
Sandland (24 catches, 267 yards last season) will compete with Asante Cleveland, Dyron Dye and David Perry and the two incoming freshmen to back up Clive Walford and play in tandem with Walford in two tight-end sets. Sandland is in line for playing time if he pans out, considering Cleveland hasn’t lived up to coaches’ expectations.
It actually would make sense for UM to move Dye back to defensive end – a position of need - but UM says it won’t seriously consider any position switches for anybody until after the New Year.
“They wouldn’t be recruiting a JUCO kid so hard if they didn’t need someone to come in and contribute,” Sandland told Canesport.
Among junior college tight ends the Canes have added over the years, the hope is Sandland is closer to Jeremy Shockey than Chase Ford.
FYI: UM lost receivers coach George McDonald to Arkansas on Wednesday.
### While many Dolphins fans are very much aware of the six things that need to happen for Miami to make the playoffs (see our next-to-last post for the details), a bunch of Dolphins players said Wednesday they aren’t aware and aren’t particularly curious to find out. One exception: Richie Incognito.
Asked if he knows the scenario, Reggie Bush said, “I do not.” When reporters started telling him, he said, “That’s too much to remember.”
### Couple receiver notes: Not only is Davone Bess still dealing with a back issue, but Brian Hartline is, too. Both missed practice Thursday. Receiver Chris Hogan -- who was nicknamed 7-11 during Dolphins training camp because (as Bush said) “he was always open,” -- was moved up to Buffalo’s 53-man roster, but it’s questionable if he will get any playing time against Miami on Sunday.
### Last season, the Heat was fifth in field-goal percentage against. This year, Miami is 18th in that category, plus 16th in points allowed. No wonder Stan Van Gundy said, during his weekly 790 cameo with Dan Le Batard on Wednesday, that there’s no way the Heat can win a championship if it continues playing defense like this.
The Heat has dropped to last in the league in rebounding but 22nd in rebounding differential.
Offensively, the Heat is first in field goal percentage and fourth in scoring average (103.1).
### Couple broadcast notes: Panthers TV announcer Steve Goldstein relayed to us last week that he has agreed to co-host a morning talk show with Jeff DeForrest on WINZ-940 beginning Jan. 3. The show will run 6 to 10 a.m…. NBA TV on Wednesday hired former FIU coach and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas as a studio analyst.