Discussion: Jimmy Rollins’ Next Contract

Much has been written about what the Yankees will do with Derek Jeter‘s pending free agency and how much the Yankee captain will earn even though he’s coming off a down year and may not be able to continue for much longer at the shortstop position.  The catch, however, is that nobody expects Jeter to play anywhere but in New York and even if the Yankees overpay him, they can afford it for a franchise icon.

This scenario could replay itself in the 2011-12 offseason, though with more dramatic consequences.  Jimmy Rollins will be a free agent after 2011 and while Rollins is almost as beloved in Philadelphia as Jeter is in the Big Apple, Rollins’ sharper decline may give the Phillies a tough choice to make next winter.

Rollins is coming off an injury-plagued 2010 campaign that saw him only hit .243/.320/.374 in 394 plate appearances.  While this season could be explained by his calf and hamstring problems, Rollins wasn’t much more effective in 2009 (.250/.296/.423) when he led the majors with 725 PAs.  Perhaps as a vote of confidence, the Phils picked up Rollins’ $8.5MM option for 2011 following that disappointing 2009 season, but the club have to be having second thoughts about that move given how Rollins played this season.  One bright side: Rollins had a 12.3 UZR/150 rating in 2010, the second-best mark of his career.

Back in April, in the wake of Ryan Howard‘s massive extension, MLBTR’s Luke Adams looked at how Rollins’ future in Philadelphia might be impacted by Howard’s deal.  Adams concluded that the Phillies would probably extend Rollins, but “If Rollins does receive a multi-year, big-money extension though, the Phillies’ financial flexibility will take yet another hit.”  MLBTR’s Howard Megdal agreed, painting a rather dire picture of Philadelphia’s payroll in 2012 and beyond.

Looking at the situation now, Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge‘s contracts almost surely be off the books after 2011; Ibanez is a free agent, Lidge has a $1.5MM buyout option.  Jayson Werth is at best a 50-50 proposition to be re-signed, since the Phillies have Domonic Brown waiting in the wings. 

Added to the equation, however, is Roy Oswalt‘s $16MM team option for 2012.  Though Oswalt will turn 35 in 2012, the right-hander has showed no signs of slowing down.  Given the choice between having Oswalt or a 33-year-old shortstop with a sub-.700 OPS, I think both the Phillies and their fans would prefer to see Oswalt back in the fold over Rollins if a choice had to be made.  Philadelphia isn’t a small market by any means, but they certainly don’t have a Yankee-esque payroll that allows them to throw big money at everyone.

That said, Rollins’ decline in production could actually increase his chances of retiring as a Phillie if it lowers his asking price.  Rather than a big-money contract, Rollins and the team could agree to an incentive-filled deal that stretches over three seasons and pays him around $9MM a year in guaranteed money.  It gives the Phillies some flexibility, Rollins the chance to still earn extra cash if he reaches his incentives and both sides a PR win — the club for doing right by a Phillie hero and Rollins for not seeking an unrealistically big contract if he continues to decline.  

Is $9MM a season still too much for a shortstop that had a lower OPS than Ian Desmond, Marco Scutaro or (by 16 points) even Derek Jeter this season?  Probably, but as Yankees fans can tell you, there’s something to be said for overpaying a home-grown, World Series-winning star.  

36 Responses to Discussion: Jimmy Rollins’ Next Contract Leave a Reply

  1. Was just thinking about this tonight… His defense hasn’t taken a decline, so he still has his value there. A lot of it really comes down to his 2011 season. If he has another one like 2010 (injury plagued, mostly unproductive bat) you have to be prepared to let him walk if he won’t take an incentive laden deal. And I’m ok if the incentive is solely AB or games played.

    I think you start somewhere, like you said, around 3/25 with various options for the 4th (5th?) year and work from there.

    I’d absolutely hate to see the man leave town, but I’d hate even more to be paying him $30M+ while he sits on the DL for more and more games each season.

  2. stl_cards16 5 years ago

    Rollins almost as beloved in Philly as Jeter is in New York? nah, I don’t buy that. I’m not on the “in” with Philly, but I actually don’t even think he is the most beloved player on their team. Wouldn’t that be Chase Utley?

    • carlosrooiz 5 years ago

      Without a doubt we love Chase more. And Choooooch. Everyone loves Chooch.

      At this point I feel like I’m in an on-again, off-again relationship with Jimmy and think that would accurately represent a lot of other Phils fans. Yes, he’s been here for 10+ years, but the last couple have been tough. He continues to be an anti-prototypical leadoff hitter (when he’s hitting leadoff, of course) and his injuries have been frustrating as well. He’s a likable guy but it’s tough to see your leadoff man swing continually swing at the first pitch and popout to shallow center field game after game.

    • Derek Jeter is practically the prince of New York City. Jimmy Rollins may not even be among the Top 5 most popular Phillies, when you consider the love Halladay, Oswalt, Utley, Howard, Werth and Victorino get. Heck, Raul Ibanez was more popular than Jimmy Rollins for a stretch.

    • Jessamynn 5 years ago

      You’re probably right — although I will say that Charlie Manuel and the Front Office consider Rollins to be a “team defining” player, as in they view his attitude and leadership to be integral to the team’s success.

      It’s a weird situation. He’s clearly on the decline, some of which is injury related, some of which is not. However, the Phillies have this inexplicable split with and without him the lineup…they’re something like 50+ games over .500 (over the past two seasons) with him playing, as opposed to barely .500 without him — despite him being abysmal offensively during this time.

      I don’t even know how to begin explaining the discrepancy in the team’s record here, and you can be sure that the Phillies are aware of it. The organization values character and intangibles as much as any team in baseball, and I’m convinced that they really believe him to be a positive force for the team, despite the awful numbers.

      I don’t know what to believe. I do believe in character/intangibles, but you can’t just simply ignore two seasons worth of numbers, injuries or not.

  3. I love rollins but he doesn’t hit for power or average anymore and is very injury prone. I think his best days are definitely behind him :/

  4. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    i guess if he gets somewhat back to his career norms, he can get a Rafael Furcal type deal, 3/39. seems like a decent comparison.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      yeah definetly. It’s funny hearing Mitch Williams talk about Jimmy Rollins though…”I still think he’s the best shortstop in Baseball”.


      • Definetly better than Tulo or Hanley. LMAO

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          Reyes, even the Yunigma is more even attractive at this point.

      • Do you watch the games? Rollins range is still very good, and I have never seen anyone go up the middle and come up with a laser beam to nail a runner at first like he does.Stats back this up too. Even in a year where he missed a ton of time, Rollins put up a UZR of 12.3. Over the past three years, NO SS IN THE GAME, has a higher UZR than Rollins. By comparison Jose Reyes UZR was -2.0, Hanley’s was -3.8.

        Rollins is certainly still easily among the top in the league defensively at SS.

        • BrocNessMonster 5 years ago

          His statement was including offense. He didn’t say he isn’t a good defender.

          • Mitch Williams’ comments were regarding Rollins’ defense ability as a shortstop. I saw the segment too.

          • Ferrariman 5 years ago

            well in that case, brendan ryan is the best shortstop on the planet. but it doesn’t mean anything if he can’t hit.

      • BrocNessMonster 5 years ago

        That guy’s a clown. That whole cast… it’s like having four Joe Morgan’s at the desk.

  5. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    There’s a pretty big difference between Jeter and Rollins considering no one has ever refereed to Rollins as “the face of baseball.”

    The market for shortstops next offseason appears to be another slim year. If he has a good season he could hit open market as a clear front runner in the FA pool of shortstops.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      i disagree. it is almost a given that Jose Reyes will get his option picked up, thus putting him and Rollins in the FA market at the same time(barring an extension of course). i would take Reyes over Rollins.

  6. Phil Gunther 5 years ago

    as a philllies fan, id definitely have to say that utley is more the heart and soul of the team. i think most would agree. i think it’d have to be something incentive-laden. rollins was asked the about his future after ’11 during spring training and replied:

    “Yup, that’s it — this year and next, ’10 and ’11,” Rollins said. “That’s all we can be guaranteed, that these guys will be here for two more years. That’s the game today. I think all of us would like to stay here. But it’s all about economics now.”

  7. eponine 5 years ago

    i think rollins knows and cares more than anyone that his numbers have declined. so i would think he’d accept an incentive-laden deal. i think that’s why he has the music production company–he’s been preparing for his post-phillies life and he has other sources of income. he’s a newlywed so he has to think of others now so if he gets a great offer, i don’t know how he could turn it down.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      wow, is someone doesn’t know how to manage 55milion dollars to last their entire lives, i think they should check themselves into rehab. The music thing is probably just a personal hobby, many ballplayers do that. Some open stores, other restaurants, etc. Dude is freaking loaded, as are all baseball players.

  8. carlosrooiz 5 years ago

    What will also interest me is what happens to Valdez next year. He may have played himself into a 2 year offer from someone out there, especially with such a weak SS market–or am I off on that? I just hope he’s back another year for a reasonable price as Rollins Insurance. The difference between a Bruntlett-caliber backup and a Valdez was a huge difference this year when Jimmy went down. What do you think it would take to keep Valdez?

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      probably a 1yr/2-3million deal or a 2yr/4-5million deal. Journeymen don’t usually earn much more than that…

      • PhilliesLoveOmar 5 years ago

        This might be the best money the Phillies spend in the offseason. Not only has he proven to be a more then adequate SS but he can also play 3B or 2B and that’s important given how injury prone Polanco and Utley have been.

        The only question I have is, has he been good enough to get a starting job somewhere?

        • nepp 5 years ago

          Not a chance in hell. Valdez is a utility backup, not a starter, not even on a bad team.

  9. I think Jimmy doesen’t go back to his career form, but comes back strong at least. He has got to care about his declinning production and numbers, I think he is definetly gonna work hard this offseason to get in playing shape. An incentive laden deal is good, and then they can go from there.

  10. jarg8 5 years ago

    I would love to get Jimmy back, but at the right price. Hes a great clutch hitter, hes one of the best fielders in baseball, hes a great leader with no off the field garbage, and hes a great baserunner. However he has recently become injury prone and hit like .220 since his early injury, which is even worse considering he doesn’t walk at all. Hopefully he turns it around next year but I only see about 15 homers and a .250 ba. I can’t see him making more then 5-7 mil a year and getting more than 3 years unless he has a major turnaround.

  11. everyone forgots before he got injuried this year he started really strong. leg injuries to a player like him will hurt his production. jimmy means more to to this team than most players do. he is this teams swagger i love jimmy and hes my second favorite phillie and i will be pissed if they let him walk, which i highly doubt.

  12. myname_989 5 years ago

    Some people make me laugh. You can always tell when someone jumps on the bandwagon in October. I’ll probably get flammed for this, but Jimmy Rollins brings something to the Phillies that statistics simply can’t measure. Sure, we all know that he is one of the premier defenders in the league, but he is also a clubhouse leader that makes the team around him perform at a higher level. That’s more than can be said about a lot of shortstops, especially Hanley Ramirez, like someone mentioned above.

    Being a great baseball player isn’t always about statistics. Jimmy Rollins is still one of the best shortstops in baseball, when healthy, and I’m sure if he was healthy for most of this year, he’d be in the discussion for the best shortstop period. (He got off to an incredible start before hitting the DL.)

    I’m obviously a little biased, but people from outside the Phillies fanbase simply don’t understand what J-Roll means to this team, and where they’d be without him in the clubhouse. Until his on the field play makes his off the field personality irrelevant, which won’t happen, Jimmy Rollins will be a Phillie.

    Next contract – 4 years, 44 – 46MM.

  13. philsWSchamps 5 years ago

    Jimmy stays at a reasonable figure. Say $8 million for 3 years? Also younger kids by the end of that deal will come up to replace the Lidge’s (Mathieson) and Blanton’s (May, Way or Cosart).

    Phils toughest replacement will be Utley when the time comes. As someone said earlier as Utley goes, so goes the Phils. I still remember when Abreu was still here that the club was an underachieving, lackadasical group. not now. Not with Utley. Its been correctly said that he’s the hitter’s equivalent of Halladay when it comes to preparation and even Halladay marvels at how much and how hard Utley works which says something.

    • malcolmec 5 years ago

      I agree, but I think a guy like Jimmy Rollins serves as a good co-captain, if you will, with Chase Utley. Utley’s intensity is legendary; the man is all focus and preparation, and barely talks to anyone as far as I can tell. Jimmy, on the other hand, can’t keep his mouth shut (I mean this endearingly). For the younger players, it’s probably good to have veteran examples of both sides of baseball: hard workers and guys who remind you that the game is ultimately a lot of fun.

  14. malcolmec 5 years ago

    “One bright side: Rollins had a 12.3 UZR/150 rating in 2010, the second-best mark of his career.”

    Hmm… one bright side? Seems to me like playing really good defense is actually the main qualification for being a shortstop, as evidenced by the fact that Major League Baseball existed for over 100 years before anyone expected shortstops to hit.

    Actually, Rollins did have another “bright side” in 2010: his patience at the plate increased dramatically. Jimmy drew 40 walks in 394 PA this year, more than 1 per 10 PA and BY FAR the highest rate of his career. The .320 OBP is deceptive; last year he had a higher batting average but a miserable OBP of .296. His increase in patience means that when Jimmy finds his stroke again we may actually see him become more effective as a lead off hitter than he ever has been.

    But even if that doesn’t happen, I’m perfectly happy with my perennial Gold Glover at shortstop, thank you very much.

  15. Atlantaphil 5 years ago

    The reason the Braves were so successful for so long is that Schuerholtz had the ability to anticipate players’ declines. It is pretty obvious that Rollins at best is on the downhill slide. Ibanez is just overpaid. Werth will require too much money. Would like to see the Phillies take some money and add to bench and bullpen while keeping Oswalt. Maybe we can trade Oswalt for Cliff Lee!!!

  16. Yankees420 5 years ago

    I’m curious as to what will happen if Rollins really turns it around in ’11 and puts up ridiculous numbers, much like Jeter did in ’09. I think that would put the Phillies in the toughest spot because then Rollins would have much more of a leg to stand on for demanding big money.

  17. iwishihadaclue 5 years ago

    Yea I dunno how they come up with those UZR ratings. Daniel Murphy of the Mets had either the best or top 3 rating as a 1B. There is no way, anyone who seen him play everyday can say his defense at 1st was that good. Same with Ruben Tejada, I think he was “supposedly” very bad defensively according to UZR. That also is extremely inaccurate.

  18. -2.0 isn’t necessarily a bad rating. It implies that Reyes is absolutely not going to hurt you in the field defensively. As a Phillies fan I see tons of Reyes and he physically possesses all the tools, no doubt. I can say nothing bad about Reyes defense, and saying that he is not Jimmy Rollins is not a back-handed compliment.

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