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Scott Rolen has approached the Reds about coming back

Dec 12, 2012, 12:55 PM EDT

Scott Rolen Getty Images

Last week Scott Rolen’s agent said his client needed more time to decide if he wants to come back. He’s apparently decided. From Danny Knobler:

Rolen has now suggested to the Reds that he might want to go to spring training and give it another try, according to sources, and the Reds would be more than happy to give him a chance. The Reds believe he can help, on the field and especially in the clubhouse, where they value his leadership.

It would have to be a bench role, right? Because Rolen has cratered over the past two years, both in terms of his performance and his durability, hitting .244/.301/.397 in 157 games. Meanwhile, Todd Frazier came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting with a .273/.331/.498, 19-home run year. By all rights, Frazier should be the starting third baseman.

Another problem: Rolen has never played a position other than third, so his usefulness off the bench would be limited.

If Rolen comes to camp and struggles, we’ll get to see how much leadership is really worth.


  1. jonrox - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    I’d rather have him than Jack Hannahan if the salaries were the same and playing time expectations were low. At least with Rolen you know you are going to get Gold Glove level defense and a potential batting upside. Hannahan has been an average defender with a below average bat and no speed.

    With Frazier’s versatility, Rolen can come off the bench to 3rd and Frazier can move to wherever is needed. Frazier actually played more SS in the minors than 3rd, and has logged some time at SS and 2nd at both levels.

    • jonrox - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      I guess the question is whether Rolen would accept getting only 200 at bats and being a late-game defensive substitution.

    • abaird2012 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      Age and injury make Gold Glove defense unlikely going forward. Batting “upside” too, probably. I’ve always liked Scotty, but at this juncture, if I’m the Reds I give him a miss. Unless he’s crazy-cheap — which ain’t about to happen.

      • jonrox - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        That’s possible, but he still played above average defense last year with a gimpy shoulder, and his OPS over the last two years is still better than Hannahan’s career numbers. Keep in mind that Hannahan will be 33 at the start of the season next year, so he’s not exactly on an upswing either. I just see it right now as Hannahan has a track record of replacement-level mediocrity at best, whereas Rolen has been slightly above average, even in his worst years.

    • jm91rs - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:30 PM

      This is bad news! Unless someone above Dusty makes the decision, we all know he’ll play Rolen over Frazier. Frazier can’t get a fair shot if his job is to play every 3rd or 4th day.

  2. albertmn - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Given that they signed Hannahan, I wouldn’t think they would bring Rolen back. Unless Hannahan’s contract isn’t guaranteed, in which case, they could let the two battle it out for that spot.

    • jwbiii - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      Hannahan’s contract is probably not guaranteed. He has less than five years of service time and free agent contracts for those players are generally not guaranteed. What could the Reds do with him? There are probably about a dozen mistakes here, but here are my best guesses;

      – If they release him during Spring Training, they would owe him either 1/6 or 1/4 of his salary, depending on when they release him.
      – He has an option remaining. Because of his service time he would have to clear revocable option waivers. We rarely hear about this sort of claim because the waiver process is secret and it may result in a trade. He does not have enough service time to refuse an optional assignment. If optioned, he would be paid at the veteran rate of $79,900, unless he has a split contract specifying some other amount.
      – They could outright him. Then he would have to clear irrevocable waivers. He could refuse the assignment, since he’s been outrighted before, but the Reds would owe him no further money. If he cleared waivers and accepted the assignment, then they would sign him to a minor league deal. In cases like this, it would usually be a split contract with $79,900 in the minors and $2M if they were to purchase his contract.

      After all that, I’d rather keep Hannahan. He has a better health record and offers some positional flexibility. If someone goes down with any injury, you need a backup who can play every day until he is healed. I don’t think you can count on Rolen for that anymore.

  3. hoopmatch - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Rolen probably likes the people with the Reds (teammates, et. al.) Cincinnati is close to his home in Indiana. And the Reds have a decent shot at the World Series in 2013. So why not return if he’s healthy and they’ll have him? Makes sense to me from his perspective.

  4. pasta09man - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Scotty is probably a near miss at the HOF but it’s not a smart idea for Rolen to be on the same first year of eligibility ballot as Chipper Jones. If Rolen ever has a ghost of a chance in the HOF he doesn’t need his record compared to the other NL 3rd baseman retiring this year. Timing is everything.

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