One of Philadelphia’s most iconic athletes is now Hollywood-bound.
The Phillies’ all-time hits leader—the 2007 National League MVP, 2008 World Series champion, three-time All-Star and four-time gold glover—is now a Los Angeles Dodger.
At 36, Jimmy Rollins has surely lost a step. But while the Phillies have finally conceded to the idea of rebuilding, Rollins can still be an impact player for a contender such as the Dodgers. Before he dons Dodger blue, it’s worth noting Rollins’ impact on one of the few glorified stretches in the history of Philadelphia baseball—one that has seen more stretches of mediocrity and lost seasons than parades down Broad Street.
Sep 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (11) fields a ground ball during the third inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
So what exactly are the Dodgers getting? From 2010-2014, Rollins has averaged a .251 batting average to go along with a below-average .323 on-base percentage. (These numbers do not exactly align with the current thinking of the Dodgers’ new front office of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi—a group that values things like OBP.) However, in those five seasons, Rollins played 138 games or more in all but one season (in 2010 he played just 88 games). He did hit 17 home runs last season, but a lot of that can be attributed to the hitter-friendly nature of Citizens Bank Park. And even though he’s past his prime, Rollins is still a quality base-stealer. In the last two seasons, he’s swiped 50 bags while being caught just 12 times.
Even as he’s aged, Rollins remains one of the better defensive shortstops around. The Dodgers gain a veteran presence and improve up the middle defensively. But Los Angeles should not expect huge offensive numbers from Rollins. If they are looking at his offensive value realistically, they must be somewhat concerned that he has played over 2,000 career games at one of the more demanding positions on the diamond. I can still see him hitting 10 home runs and stealing 20 bases though.
I think Rollins is likely a one-year fix at shortstop until the Dodgers are ready to bring top-prospect Corey Seager to Los Angeles. If Seager needs more fine-tuning, the Dodgers could always try and re-sign Rollins, as he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season.
Since the Phillies admittedly do not think they will contend in 2015, the decision to trade an icon like Rollins must have been tough, but as a business decision it was the right call. Rollins is a valuable piece that netted Philadelphia some much-needed prospects.
Eflin, 20, is a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher. A 2012 first-round pick (33rd overall) by the San Diego Padres, he posted a 3.80 ERA in 24 starts at High-A last season. Before being traded to the Phillies, Eflin was sent to the Dodgers in the Matt Kemp trade.
Philadelphia can only hope Eflin turns into a middle or back-end starter in the rotation. He should pitch at Double-A at some point in 2015, barring any setbacks.
Windle, 22, was one of the top prospects in the Dodgers’ organization. Like Eflin, he is also a 6-foot-4 starter, only Windle is left-handed. In 2013, he was a second-round pick.
While there is upside with Windle as a big lefty, he struggled last year in High-A. In 25 starts and one relief appearance, he had a 4.26 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. But with the lack of talent in the Phillies’ system, Windle should pitch in Double-A along with Eflin this season.
If Windle fails as a starter the Phillies could ultimately convert him to a reliever. Windle has a solid slider, which should give many left-handed hitters trouble. With his size and ability to dial up his fastball into the 90s, he could eventually wind up being a key piece in the bullpen.
I like this trade for both teams. The Dodgers get a short-term solution to their need for a shortstop. And the Phillies collect young arms. I don’t think Eflin and Windle are future aces, but if one of them could mature into a three or a four in the rotation, I think the Phillies would consider the trade a success.