Gregory Polanco, heralded as a future star when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 but whose career slid downhill after shoulder surgery four years later, was placed on waivers Sunday night, according to multiple reports.
The Athletic was first to report the news. The Pirates had no comment.
If Polanco is not claimed off waivers by Tuesday, he can become a free agent or agree to join Triple-A Indianapolis. He likely would choose free agency.
He is the highest-paid and longest tenured (eight seasons) Pirates player with a salary of $11.6 million this year, but he will be paid the remainder of the salary he would have earned over the final 38 games ($2.71 million).
If he is unclaimed off waivers and signs elsewhere as a free agent, he will be paid a prorated portion of the veterans’ minimum salary by his new team, with the Pirates picking up the remainder of the $2.71 million.
Polanco arrived in Pittsburgh on June 10, 2014, and he immediately went on an 11-game hitting streak, compiling a .365 batting average in that time.
Over the next three seasons, he became the Pirates’ regular right fielder, playing the position in front of the Clemente Wall in PNC Park. Overall, he played in 405 of 486 games from 2015-17.
He was having his best power season in 2018 when he dislocated his shoulder and injured a knee sliding into second base after hitting a double Sept. 7, 2018, against the Miami Marlins.
To that point, he had played in 130 of 141 games that season with a career-high 23 home runs. He also drove in 81 runs.
After subsequent shoulder surgery, he never was the same player. Over the 2019, 2020 and the current season, he hit a total of 24 home runs with 73 RBIs. His batting averages from 2019-21 were .242, .153 and .199. He struck out 98 times in 318 at-bats this season.
His last hit was a bunt single Sunday, one of only two hits the Pirates recorded in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and pitcher Adam Wainwright.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton wrote Polanco’s name into the starting lineup 88 times this season, looking for his power to reappear. Polanco also spent 13 games on the injured list.
Despite his struggles, Polanco is second on the team with 11 home runs and third with 34 RBIs. He also leads the team with 14 stolen bases, 11 more than runner-up Ke’Bryan Hayes and the fifth time in eight seasons Polanco had 12 or more.
The Pirates likely will turn to Anthony Alford, Hoy Park, Wilmer Difo or Ben Gamel to fill the void in right field. All four players have limited experience there this season.
General manager Ben Cherington said Sunday on his radio show that Alford, who is 4 for 17 since his return from Triple-A Indianapolis on Aug. 7, is likely to come off the injured list soon. He would be eligible Monday.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .