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Will Jimmy Rollins Return to the Phillies?

Rollins on deck 4.24.09The Philadelphia Phillies and Jimmy Rollins have been at a stand still in their contract negotiations leaving Phillies fans wondering if the former MVP will return to the city of brotherly love. But news on the Jimmy Rollins front has been quiet all around. So the question is, will Jimmy Rollins Return to the Phillies?

The issue between Rollins and the Phillies has been primarily the number of years each wants in the contract. J-Roll wants a 5 year deal while the Phillies want to keep the contract at 3 years. On the surface, one would think that a compromise of 4 years would be an easy fix and that they would have been able to come to terms on a new deal. If you look closer though, it is easy to see why the extra year is so complicated and why Rollins is still very much available.

Since Rollins MVP season in 2007, his numbers have dropped significantly, as has his time on the field. In 2010 and 2011, Jimmy missed 94 games due to injuries. Consider that along with the following statistics about shortstops after the age of 33 (Rollins age now), and a 5 year contract seems ridiculous. 

Since 1962 the number of shortstops that played in at least 140 games in a season is surprisingly low:

  • Age 33 - 17
  • Age 34 - 15
  • Age 35 - 12
  • Age 36 - 5
  • Age 37 - 3

Rollins SS 4.24.09 097With Rollins injury history, does it seem realistic that he would be one of the few shortstops that would be able to play a full season? Absolutely not. Every general manager knows these statistics and even a team that wants to make an offseason splash is not going to take a chance on five years considering the statistics and Rollins injury history.

The Phillies have their own concerns though that could cause them to extend themselves a little more than they would like to. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr has made it clear that the team is not interested in Jose Reyes. Prospect Freddy Galvis was just shut down in winter ball after hitting just .218 in 29 games and is clearly not ready to play at the big league level. Beyond that the Phillies do not have any other real options for the position other than resigning Rollins. 

So what should the Phillies do? They should wait Rollins out and offer him a 3 year contract with a vesting option for a 4th year based upon games played or plate appearances. To protect their investment, they should continue to develop Galvis and when he is ready (hopefully in 2013) they should move Rollins to third base. 

Moving Rollins to third base makes sense for Rollins and for the Phillies. For Jimmy, it will take the physical strain off of his body that the shortstop position imposes and could extend his career. It certainly worked for Cal Ripken. For the Phillies it would fill the hole left by Placido IMG_5258Polanco when his contract ends and give the team the opportunity to let Galvis play at the big league level while they would have a mentor and back up plan right next to him in the infield. Should Galvis not pan out, Rollins could be moved back to shortstop until the Phillies figure out another plan for the position.

In the end, it makes sense that Rollins will return to the Phillies in 2012. It does not appear that another team will give him 5 years and the Phillies will be willing to over pay him a little bit because they do not have another option at the position and can not afford to lose the production in their lineup that Rollins brings. Rollins knows and is comfortable with the organization, is settled in Philadelphia, and wants to be part of a winner. All signs point to his return. Expect to see J-Roll smiling in Clearwater in February when the team gathers for Spring Training.

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