While it doesn’t seem as if $11 million a year for three years is any type of hardship to pay live on, the contract shortstop Jimmy Rollins agreed to in order to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies might qualify as a hometown discount.
At the least, Rollins chose to stay at home rather than squeeze out every possible penny from other suitors to stick with the only professional organization he has known, and it was enough money to make him feel loved. As the 2006 National League MVP said, he has been attached to the Philllies since he was 17 and now at 33 it just didn’t feel right to depart for someplace strange like the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates, or Seattle Mariners.
“To go somewhere new at this part of my career, you feel like a rented player because you weren’t part of the process of building the team up,” Rollins said when he agreed to Philadelphia’s offer.
It was the smart move for Rollins and the right move for the Phillies to tie up him for what seems likely to be the rest of his career, at least as a starter. After last season’s playoff disappointment the Phillies are all in for 2012, not only trying to keep the old gang together, but also adding select fill-in pieces to become even stronger. Perhaps Rollins isn’t quite the player he was when he took home that MVP award, but losing him in free agency and replacing him with someone new might have been disruptive.
By all means the Phillies want to maintain continuity, get back to the World Series, and win another crown with the team they are paying a premium for at this moment. Philadelphia will have one of the highest payrolls in the sport in 2012, and the Phillies have really spared no expense to arrange the roster. They truly thought they were the best team in the game last year and it had to be a bitter feeling to lose a playoff round to the last-minute-in St. Louis Cardinals and then watch those same Cardinals, who were nobody’s idea of a favorite, claim the Series title.
In 12 seasons Rollins has batted .272, with 170 home runs and 725 RBIs, pretty good power production for a middle infielder and someone mostly relied upon for the slickness of his glove. Rollins’ fielding percentage has never dipped under .978 and usually it has been higher. He has not made more than seven errors in a season since 2007. He is also closing in on being part of 1,000 double plays as a Phillie.
A three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins also has 373 career stolen bases. When he gets on, Rollins makes things happen. There is that business of getting on. If there is one thing the Phillies need to keep an eye on as Rollins ages it is his on-base percentage, which should be higher than his career mark of .329.
Rollins has been part of the Phillies’ grand plan of building an annual contender, that has one World Series title in the bank, and maybe should have at least one more. The end is not in sight with this group, though, and it was obvious that played on Rollins’ mind, too. Yes, maybe he could collect an even larger paycheck from another team, but how would he feel being on the outside looking in if the Phillies won it all in 2012 without him?
Face it, Rollins is a Phillie and he wants to stay a Phillie for the rest of his career. This deal should take care of that.