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Jimmy Rollins and his desire for a five-year deal

Nov 9, 2011, 6:10 PM EST

Jimmy Rollins AP

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies and free agent Jimmy Rollins are talking, but Rollins is still asking for a five-year contract, meaning a quick resolution probably isn’t on the way.

Rollins is coming off something of a bounce-back season at age 32, having hit .268/.338/.399 in 567 at-bats. That was good for a 101 OPS+ (OPS adjusted for league and ballpark, with the average player coming in at 100). He finished at 87 and 85 in the two seasons prior to that. Those were two of his three lowest marks in his 12 years as a big leaguer.

Rollins still has considerable value as an everyday shortstop, but given that he appears well past his prime offensively, a three-year deal would surely be much more attractive to the Phillies. They could well get burned if they commit to him for his age-36 and 37 seasons now.

But what is the risk? Here’s a glance at how the players deemed most comparable to Rollins after their age-32 seasons performed at 36 and 37. I’m not going in depth here, just a quick look at their OPS+ and playing time for those two seasons. The player list is from Baseball-Reference.com.

Alan Trammell: 84 in 292 AB, 82 in 223 AB|
Craig Biggio: 88 in 577 AB, 96 in 628 AB
Joe Morgan: 115 in 461 AB, 115 in 308 AB
Dick Bartrell: Out of baseball
Lou Whitaker: 133 in 383 AB, 121 in 322 AB
Ryne Sandberg: 96 in 554 AB, 83 in 447 AB
Edgar Renteria: N/A
Derek Jeter: 90 in 663 AB, 97 in 546 AB
Travis Jackson: Out of baseball
Ray Durham: 113 in 370 AB, retired

It’s not quite as ugly as I thought it might be. The problem is that Rollins simply isn’t as good as most of the players on this list. He has a 97 OPS+ through age 32. Trammell, who should be in the Hall of Fame, was at 114. Biggio was at 125, and Morgan was at a whopping 140.

Rollins is more comparable to Renteria, but that’s not fair either. Renteria, who plays next year at 36, had his last good season at 30. Durham was a similar hitter to Rollins, and while he was out of baseball at 37, it certainly wasn’t because of his bat. Rollins has a lot in common offensively with former outfielder Marquis Grissom, who was just as good as ever at ages 36 and 37.

I suspect that Rollins will be a below average regular by the time 2015 rolls around, but he probably won’t be a big liability. The Phillies can afford to compromise and give him a four-year deal, solidifying their shortstop situation while they still rank among the game’s best teams these next couple of seasons. Things will likely get ugly in Philadelphia come 2015 anyway, so throwing an extra $15 million of so Rollins’ way that year shouldn’t wreak too much havoc.

  1. Kyle - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    How about something like 4 years, 44 million with a 13 million vesting option for a 5th year?

    • halladaysbiceps - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:19 PM

      How about this. The Phillies give him nothing and let him walk. He wants 5 yrs. Let someone else give it to him. He’s no leadoff hitter and has become an outspoken imbecile that the Phillies can do without.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:22 PM

        The kettle rears its ugly head.

        (And no, that is not a comment on race.)

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:24 PM

        If he walks, the Phillies need to sign Clint Barmes as a stop gap.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:29 PM

      Better than giving that to Madson, which is, I imagine, your point.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    If he’s going to insist on 5 years he’s going to have a hard time finding work. Who in their right mind is going to sign a player already past his prime to that kind of deal?

    • zakharovsa - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      see Jeter, Derek

      • paperlions - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:45 PM

        First, Rollins is no Derek Jeter

        Second, Rollins does not play for the Yankees

        Third, seriously, Rollins is no Derek Jeter.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:34 PM

        I believe the Jeter signing was also a reflection of his intangibles… he’s a Yankee icon, he was due to reach 3.000 hits in his next season, he’s a sure fire 1st ballot HoF. Really, Jeter had ALL the leverage.

      • b7p19 - Nov 10, 2011 at 4:35 PM

        I’ve got to get me some intangibles.

  3. SOBEIT - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Phillies please sign him otherwise Sabean will see a vet past his prime asking for too much money and years…it will be irresistable for him. See Renteria, then Tejada, then OCab. Please please please. Rollins only should get a 2 year with a 3rd club option only…and that is being generous.

    From that list you had up there, Renteria, Durham and Grissom were all on the Giants. I have a bad feeling if he does not sign with the Phillies!

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:39 PM

      No worries there, Sabean will sign Jamie Moyer…

      • kellyb9 - Nov 10, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        But Moyer isn’t past his prime yet.

  4. crazimitch - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    I’m hoping they let both Madson and Rollins walk at these prices. However I suspect they’ll repeat the mistake of the 94 phils and resign everyone at crazy numbers.

  5. scatterbrian - Nov 9, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    “That was good for a 101 OPS+ … He finished at 87 and 85 in the two seasons prior to that. Those were two of his three lowest marks in his 12 years as a big leaguer.”

    When talking about OPS+ and Rollins, it’s much more telling when you point out that he’s had just one season above 103.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM

      It would actually be more telling if they reported his OPS+ relative to other SS’s.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:34 PM

        wRC+ is a better against-the-average metric also, since it weighs OBP properly and includes baserunning, and it’s got him at 101 for his career, making him an average hitter and an above-average hitter for a SS.

        What you really want though is WAR, which compares him to shortstops and isn’t a rate statistic, so it takes into account his missed time. That’s got him with a peak of 5 years in a row at 4.5 to 7 wins, but in the 2.5-4 range the last three years.

        Probably worth $10-$15MM over three or four years, would be my feeling.

  6. PhillieBirds - Nov 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Obviously the guy is just trying to get paid and I don’t blame him for that. But he just thinks waaaaay to highly of himself, and has for years. Cockiness and swagger is something that worked and was needed when this team was trying to get over the hump, but it’s not valuable enough to overpay and overextend him.

    Let him test the market, and if he gets his big time deal so be it. If he doesn’t then try to work out a 3 year deal.

  7. foreverchipper10 - Nov 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    So, Matthew…..near the end there did you drop a hint that perhaps the Phillies’ future is murky at best? :)

  8. purnellmeagrejr - Nov 10, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    ” throwing an extra $15 million of so Rollins’ way that year shouldn’t wreak too much havoc.” yeah, for the last three years of his five year contract. Gimme a break.

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