Phillies Bring Jimmy Rollins Back
When Jose Reyes signed with the Florida Marlins and Rafael Furcal re-upped with the St. Louis Cardinals, there were few destinations left for Rollins, turning this into a waiting game for the Phillies. GM Ruben Amaro has often preempted the market to his own detriment (see: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard), so he should be credited for being patient and recognizing the market.
The deal is about as team-friendly as realistically possible. Rollins was reportedly seeking a five-year deal with an average annual value greater than $11 million, so the Phillies were looking at committing upwards of $60 million potentially. To get him on a comparatively short deal at a reasonable price (both AAV and in total) is a huge coup for the Phillies. As a result, they will have slightly more wiggle room to fit under the luxury tax. Depending on how Amaro chooses to round out the roster and what the few arbitration-eligible players are paid, the Phillies may be able to make one more notable signing.
Getting Rollins back was so important for the Phillies. Without him, they were looking at a significant downgrade, be it via Freddy Galvis, Wilson Valdez, or a free agent like Ryan Theriot or Ronny Cedeno. Despite what many considered to be another season of decline last year, Rollins was worth 4 WAR according to FanGraphs. Missing out on Rollins and moving on to any other available option (replacement level) would have been a significant loss.
Reports of Rollins’ demise may have been greatly exaggerated. At the second-most important position on the field, Rollins posted an above-average wOBA (.329), walked as often as he struck out (58/59), stole 30 bases (at a 79 percent success rate), and continued to play solid defense. When he is on the field and stays there consistently, Rollins’ production is rivaled by few in the game.
Zolecki reports that Rollins’ fourth-year vesting option is easily-attainable, so the Phillies are realistically looking at $44 million over four years, which isn’t bad at all. Rollins simply has to post about 10 fWAR over the life of the contract, or 2.5 fWAR per season. Rollins will be 36 years old when he will next be available for free agency. It is still possible that he has one more payday ahead of him, but for now, the Rollins family, the Phillies organization, and the city of Philadelphia should be very happy that the face of the franchise will don red pinstripes for the foreseeable future.