“Multiple teams” have some interest in signing veteran infielder Jimmy Rollins as a second baseman, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. For now, though, the 37-year-old is waiting to see if an opportunity arises for him to continue as a shortstop.
In the sixteen seasons he’s logged to date, Rollins has spent exactly one third of an inning in the field at a position other than short. (That notable moment came back in 2002, and according to Baseball-Reference he was indeed standing at the second base position.) Of course, there’s a good reason for that: Rollins has long delivered solid-to-excellent glovework up the middle — though UZR has generally preferred him more than has DRS as he’s aged.
Last year was, by many measures, the worst in Rollins’ dignified career. He put up a career-low 78 OPS+ last year with a .224/.285/.358 slash line, logged less than twenty steals for the first time since an injury-shortened 2010 season, and finished with a negative BsR rating (Fangraphs’ baserunning component of WAR) for the first time ever. Though Rollins is still as sure-handed as ever, declining range left him with poor defensive marks. Indeed, the Dodgers gave the bulk of the playing time down the stretch and in the divisional series to freshly-promoted youngster Corey Seager (due in part to injury).
That all sounds like a less-than-promising combination. And there’s little doubt that Rollins is no longer the outstanding player of yesteryear. But he’s also just one campaign removed from a ~3.5 to 4-WAR season.
The concept of utilizing Rollins at second base actually makes a good bit of sense, from my perspective. As noted above, he remains a sound fielder, and could well rate as an excellent overall defender at second. With approximately league-average offensive lines in three of the last five years, there’s still cause to hope that he’ll approach that level of production at the plate while returning to contributing on the bases.
The free agent supply at second is, of course, rather light outside of Howie Kendrick, and it doesn’t hurt at all that Rollins would also function as a reserve shortstop. While it’s always tough to guess at possible suitors, I’d peg the Angels as the club that makes the most sense for this sort of arrangement, at least on paper, and some other teams may have interest in setting up a time share of some kind.