Yesterday, we took a look at how Ryan Howard's contract extension might affect the Phillies' chances of retaining Jayson Werth beyond this season. Following the 2011 campaign, the Phils will face a decision on a player even more crucial to their recent successes than Werth: shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies have already exercised their $8.5MM 2011 option for the 2007 National League MVP, and they'll likely want to keep Rollins past next season. He is perhaps the face of the franchise, and has been one of baseball's most productive all-around shortstops since becoming an everyday player in 2001.
The good news for the Phils is that they'll have a couple of bloated contracts coming off the books after 2011. Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge are both owed $11.5MM in '11, but are probably unlikely to remain in Philadelphia beyond that, and certainly not at that price. However, as MLBTR's Howard Megdal pointed out yesterday, the Phillies already have plenty of other commitments in 2012 and beyond.
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki notes that Rollins has said in the past that he could picture himself finishing his career for a Bay Area club, near where he grew up. These days, the 31-year-old seems more open to staying put in Philadelphia: "We weren't good then. We're good now. As long as we're good, I'm good."
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. insists that Howard's extension won't affect the team's ability to re-sign players like Werth and Rollins, though extension talks with Werth are at an impasse for now. If the Phillies are unable to bring Werth back in 2010, Rollins' chances of remaining with the club look better, since they'll be locked into one less long-term deal. If Rollins does receive a multi-year, big-money extension though, the Phillies' financial flexibility will take yet another hit. Even with a payroll that exceeds $140MM, you have to wonder how much money they can afford to tie up long-term in aging players.