Jimmy Rollins Rumors
Phillies shortstop and impending free agent Jimmy Rollins met with the media at Citizens Bank Park today. Rollins' quotes will be easier to parse once a full transcript is available, but in the meantime here are a few nuggets from the team's beat writers.
- Rollins reiterated that he's seeking a five-year deal, tweets MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The shortstop said he's open to a fifth-year option, however. Zolecki indicates that it'd have to be Rollins' option, so perhaps a player or vesting one. Rollins turns 33 next month. He talked about his five-year goal to SI's Jon Heyman on September 28th.
- Rollins says there's a "good chance" a deal with the Phillies happens, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Zolecki has Rollins saying he can't picture wearing another uniform, but noted that the shortstop also said it's about years and money.
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he plans to keep talks with Rollins private. Asked what losing Rollins would mean, Amaro said, "I will say that it will be a huge blow for us, but not insurmountable." Amaro said some in the organization feel Freddy Galvis is ready to play shortstop every day, and some do not, so he's not sure whether they'd go outside the organization for a replacement.
Some links pertaining to baseball's Eastern divisions for your Sunday evening reading:
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wonders if the reason we've yet to hear anything regarding Thursday's summit involving Orioles owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is because Angelos has convinced MacPhail to stay with the club in an advisory capacity. MacPhail will give up his current title, but Schmuck believes Angelos would give him any title he desired short of co-owner to keep him around.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports believes Buck Showalter should remain the manager of the Orioles, not take over the position of GM. That said however, Showalter needs to work closely with the new GM to honestly evaluate the organization on all levels to turn the franchise around.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon endorses his bench coach Davey Martinez wholeheartedly for the White Sox managerial opening, and told Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune that he'd "do somersaults" if Martinez got the job, despite how difficult he'd be to replace.
- It's probably implied by the five-year deal he's seeking, but Jimmy Rollins won't be offering the Phillies a hometown discount, according to this MLB.com report from Todd Zolecki, Brian McTaggart, and Nate Mink.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes that Cliff Lee is one of the most popular athletes in recent Philadelphia history, and spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and the $120MM man himself about his decision to return to the Phillies last offseason.
- The Miami Sun Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez questions whether pitching for Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins and getting away from Chicago would make Carlos Zambrano a better citizen. While Zambrano could change in Miami, Rodriguez points out his declining K/9 and increasing WHIP as red flags that need to be considered along with his character.
The National League portion of the playoffs don't start until tomorrow, but there's plenty of news coming out of Senior Circuit. Let's round up some links from the NL East...
- "That's a tough call, a tough call" joked Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies when asked by Newsday's David Lennon if he would play in New York (Twitter link). Rollins will become a free agent after the season, like Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Derek Lowe is not projected to have a spot in the rotation next year (Twitter link). The bullpen or a trade are options. Lowe is owed $15MM next year, the final one on his contract.
- Wren also said that Jason Heyward is not guaranteed to start in right field next year, but the GM told MLB.com's Mark Bowman that the Braves have never talked about trading the 22-year-old (Twitter link).
- Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com looked at five issues the Nationals must deal with this offseason, including settling on a manager.
Jimmy Rollins finds the prospect of free agency "exciting," and the shortstop told SI's Jon Heyman, "Five [years] would be great. Five would be the number." Rollins, however, guesses the number of years will be the sticking point in upcoming negotiations.
Rollins, 33 in November, is hitting .271/.340/.403 with 16 home runs in 624 plate appearances this year. His defense continues to be a positive. A pair of executives gave Heyman contract estimates ranging from three years and at least $12MM per year to four years and $14MM annually. I think five years is unrealistic even on the open market, but at least one team would commit to four. Rollins' only real competition will be Jose Reyes, who figures to get at least five years and $18MM per season.
As I showed yesterday, it appears that the Phillies can afford Rollins without raising their payroll.
The Nationals have won nine of their last eleven games, including a four-game sweep of the Phillies. They'll try to keep their hot streak alive tonight against the struggling Braves, who hold just a two-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL wild card race. Some news from the NL East....
- The Nationals are in the "preliminary stages" of negotiations with Chien-Ming Wang about an extension, Wang's agent Alan Nero tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter link).
- C.C. Sabathia thinks Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins may sign with the Giants in the offseason, reports Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Sabathia and Rollins are long-time friends and, as Heyman notes, Rollins was the first to predict that Sabathia would sign with the Yankees in the 2008-09 offseason.
- The Marlins may have been unable to deal Leo Nunez at the trade deadline due to the ongoing saga of Nunez's true identity, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Within that same link, Dan LeBatard is reporting that Major League Baseball (who must've been aware of Nunez's issues, as the Marlins were) nixed a deal involving Nunez last July.
- Chris Capuano is interested in returning to the Mets next year but said he prefers to be a starting pitcher whenever he goes, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Jose Reyes likes playing for the Mets but isn't sure how his free agency will play out this winter, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. "This is the only team that I played [for] so far in my whole career," Reyes said. "I feel comfortable here. I feel good with the ownership. I feel like we are family and stuff like that. At the same time, this is a business. And to be honest with you, I don't know what's going to happen.
- Davey Johnson wants the Nationals to add some outfield depth this winter, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times explores the possibility that southpaw Mike Zagurski (dealt from the Phillies to the Diamondbacks earlier today) could end up returning to Philadelphia as the player to be named later in the deal, a rare "traded for himself" move.
SI's Jon Heyman leads his column by ranking the favorites for Prince Fielder, putting the Brewers sixth while noting that owner Mark Attanasio "should never be counted out and is expected to make one final run" to retain his slugger. Heyman's other notes:
- The Phillies "very much" want to re-sign shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Heyman thinks the Phillies are willing to do a three-year contract while Rollins is expected to seek four or five. Rollins, 33 in November, is hitting .268/.338/.395 in 582 plate appearances this year. UZR continues to rate his defense as above average, and it seems likely Rollins will score an eight-figure salary for the first time in his career.
- The Red Sox "are thought to have interest" in Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Madson, a 31-year-old Scott Boras client, has a 2.54 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.32 HR/9, and 50% groundball rate in 56 2/3 innings this year. Last week MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith explained that Madson will probably cost another team a draft pick, but a three-year deal appears likely. In March, Madson said he wanted to finish his career with the Phillies.
Ruben Amaro Jr. told Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News that he doesn’t want to let Jimmy Rollins slip away when he hits free agency. The Phillies’ general manager expressed optimism about reaching a new deal with his shortstop after the season.
"Obviously, we'd like to bring Jimmy back,” Amaro said. “And I'd like to think he would want to come back."
Amaro said he probably won’t discuss a deal for Rollins until after the season. The Phillies are up against the luxury tax and will also see Ryan Madson hit free agency this winter. Cole Hamels is an extension candidate, which means Amaro faces major decisions regarding key members of his team in the near future.
I examined Rollins' free agent stock yesterday, suggesting that he and the Phillies could agree to a three-year, $30MM deal. The 32-year-old projects as a Type A free agent, so the Phillies would obtain two top draft picks if they offer arbitration and he declines the offer and signs elsewhere.
In theory, the Yankees’ negotiations with Derek Jeter could have provided a model for the Phillies, whose star shortstop hits free agency this offseason. Jimmy Rollins is a longtime fixture in Philadelphia, so there are definite parallels between him and Jeter, who signed a three-year $51MM deal with the Yankees in December. But given how publicly contentious those negotiations became, it’s not easy to imagine the Phillies following the Yankees’ example.
Instead, the Phillies could look to lock Rollins up during the five day period after the World Series, when they’ll have exclusive rights to him, wait and bid for his services against other teams, or let him walk (likely with an offer of arbitration and the expectation that he would decline). Rollins may not be an MVP candidate anymore, but he’s a valuable enough player that he should draw lots of interest this offseason if the Phillies let him reach the open market.
That said, he won’t be the premier available shortstop. That honor goes to Jose Reyes, who could ask for Carl Crawford money. The rest of the market includes Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll, Clint Barmes and others, though Rollins will likely be the most appealing option once Reyes signs.
There’s a lot to like about Rollins, who turns 33 after the season. He has a .264/.337/.399 line with 13 home runs and 24 stolen bases this year. Only six shortstops (Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Yunel Escobar, Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera and Alexei Ramirez) have more wins above replacement than Rollins this year and Jeter is the only shortstop with more WAR since 2000, when Rollins broke into the league, according to FanGraphs.
Rollins also has three Gold Gloves on his mantle and the stats suggest he has earned his hardware. UZR says he is an above-average defender in 2011 and has been for nine consecutive seasons.
However, Rollins’ on-base average was just .296 in 2009 and only .320 in 2010, so there has to be some concern about his ability to reach base, despite his solid .337 mark so far in 2011. Since the Phillies will presumably offer arbitration and Rollins projects as a Type A free agent, he’ll cost any team other than Philadelphia a top draft pick.
He figures to surpass the three-year, $22.25MM deal J.J. Hardy signed last month, but it’s hard to imagine a deal worth more than Jeter’s $51MM. Rollins is worth more to the Phillies than any other team because of his history in Philadelphia, just as Jeter means more to the Yankees than he would to any other club. That doesn’t mean the Phillies are going to hand their shortstop a blank check, however. If Rollins does stay in Philadelphia, it's not hard to imagine the sides agreeing to a three-year deal in the $30MM range.
The Mets ended their grand slam drought in style tonight. Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran both went deep with the bases loaded, giving the Mets their first grand slams since 2009. Here’s the latest on their division...
- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins told John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer that his contract status will take care of itself after the season, when he hits free agency. "If I have a good season, more than likely I'll be here,” Rollins said. “If I have a bad season, that will definitely make for some hard decisions."
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson named Pat Corrales the team's bench coach, according to Quinn Roberts of MLB.com. Corrales served as Washington's bench coach from 2007-08 and for part of the 2009 season.
- Dr. James Andrews will examine Josh Johnson's injured pitching shoulder tomorrow, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Johnson's right shoulder doesn't feel fully healthy, so the team wanted to check it out before deciding what to do next, according to Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest.
A number of iconic players are in contract years, so ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark looks ahead to their free agent stock and provides other rumors from around the league. Here are the details:
- No one Stark spoke with predicts David Ortiz will leave the Red Sox for another team.
- Jose Reyes will be the number two free agent on the market this winter behind only Albert Pujols, according to one executive.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledges that it wouldn't be easy to replace Jimmy Rollins, even though the shortstop is no longer an MVP-caliber player. The Phillies ‘poked around’ for possible alternatives at short last offseason, according to Stark, who predicts a two-year deal for Rollins and the Phils this winter.
- Prince Fielder will no doubt sign a lucrative free agent deal, but one executive says the first baseman’s body will be an issue: "It has been since high school, and it always will be." Fielder is 27 now, so an eight-year deal would expire after his age-35 season.
- Pujols will test the market, but Stark and his sources find it hard to believe that he’d leave St. Louis for any old team. One executive predicts that the Cubs are the Cardinals’ main threat.
- The Cubs aren’t ready to start selling and haven’t started shopping Carlos Zambrano, despite his recent outburst.
- The Red Sox offered Miguel Olivo a one-year deal before re-signing Jason Varitek last offseason. Olivo eventually signed a two-year deal with the Mariners.
- The Rangers are ‘stepping up’ their search for a right-handed setup man and maintain interest in Nationals reliever Todd Coffey.
- Rival teams say the Tigers are looking for a left-handed reliever. Southpaws Daniel Schlereth, David Purcey, Charlie Furbush and Adam Wilk are currently in Detroit’s bullpen.