The 37-year-old, who can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses, battled injuries this year and hit .257 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 90 games with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 15-year veteran is a career .299 hitter with 103 homers.
Other projected starters include Logan Morrison at first base, Donovan Solano at second, Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop, Jeff Brantly at catcher, Giancarlo Stanton in right field, Justin Ruggiano in center field and Juan Pierre in left field.
Hanley Ramirez played 90 games at third this year for Miami before being traded in July. That was part of the salary purge by the Marlins, who pared $146.5 million in future payroll when they swung a trade last month that sent former NL batting champion Jose Reyes, former NL ERA leader Josh Johnson and left-hander Mark Buehrle to Toronto.
The Marlins have a projected 2013 payroll of about $45.75 million. Their payroll on opening day this year was $112 million, not including money received in the Carlos Zambrano trade, but the team finished last in the NL East and drew smaller crowds than expected in its new ballpark.
Polanco was chosen to start in the All-Star game for the second time in 2011, but went only 10 for 58 (.172) after June 30 this year. The Phillies declined a $5.5 million option on Polanco after the season, and he received a $1 million buyout.
Polanco was the 2006 AL championship series MVP for Detroit, and he also played for St. Louis. He has 2,044 hits, and he has won two Gold Gloves at second base and one at third.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Polanco has a home in Miami and attended Miami-Dade Community College.
He would earn an additional $125,000 each for playing in 100 and 120 games. The deal was negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson.