It's been a drama-filled spring training for Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies. Last week, rumors spread of a rift between Rollins and manager Ryne Sandberg after the veteran shortstop was benched for three straight Grapefruit League games. Asked for comment on his benching, Rollins simply said that it was "unusual" and that he hadn't been told why he was sitting. Then, earlier this week, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that there was a "strong sentiment" within the Phillies' organization to trade Rollins "as soon as possible." But Rollins isn't at all worried that he's going to be moved.
"I can’t be traded," Rollins told reporters Wednesday. "It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said, I can’t be traded. It doesn’t matter. If I was tradable it may have weight because that means I could be moving soon. But I am not tradable and so it doesn’t matter."
Why can't Rollins be moved? It's simple: As a veteran with at least 10 years of MLB service time and five years with one team, Rollins can simply invoke his 10-and-5 rights to block any trade. As such, he'd have to approve any move. By the sounds of it, that won't be happening any time soon.
This isn't the first time Rollins has had to dispel trade rumors. In fact, it's not even the first time this spring he's had to do it. From MLB.com's Todd Zolecki:
"I don’t plan on putting on a different uniform," Rollins said. "That’s just the way it is. I could say it that way. I could say I’ve got work I need to do. I could say I’ve got records I need to break. I could say I want to win another World Series or two. They would love that because it’s said the way they want to hear it. But we weren’t going to win a World Series last year, so I couldn’t make that statement at that moment. It doesn’t matter how it’s said. I really don’t plan on putting on another uniform. If I say something wrong, get on me. If I speak the truth, you can get on me, but it’s not going to bother me. That’s the thing. I’m straightforward. I’ll be politically correct because I have to be at times, but I’m straightforward."
One motivator for Rollins is reportedly his desire to become the team's all-time leader in hits. At 2,175, Rollins is just 59 hits away from tying Mike Schmidt for the franchise's top spot in that category. He can also guarantee himself another year in Philadelphia if he can reach 434 plate appearances in 2014, which would vest an $11 million club option for 2015.
So Phillies fans can expect to see Rollins stay with the only team he's ever known for at least this season. Unless one thing happens:
"If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes."Given the pessimistic outlook on the Phillies this season, maybe Rollins should have a travel bag ready to go just in case things do bottom out.