Rollins looking for five-year deal and isn't afraid to leave Phillies
Star Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, still only 32 and still at the top of his defensive game, presents a very nice alternative to top free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, who's a similar player to Rollins, but more brittle and very likely much more expensive. Rollins' coming free agency hasn't received the acclaim that Reyes' has, but then Rollins isn't in New York and he's with a team that doesn't seem quite as dependent on him.
Rollins' childhood Bay Area buddy C.C. Sabathia speculated that Rollins may wind up in San Francisco, and that makes some sense since the Giants need a shortstop and haven't shied away from players over 30. Perhaps more credence should be given to this prediction, as Rollins was correct about his friend Sabathia's free-agent landing spot three winters ago, predicting the Yankees in early October of 2008 when word was going around that Sabathia would do anything to avoid New York. But deep-pocketed, spend-to-win Philly, which likes Rollins and doesn't like letting stars it likes go, probably remains the favorite to keep him.
Rollins isn't tipping his hand about possible landing spots. But he's clear on two things: One is that he is looking forward to his free agency, and the other is that he seeks a five-year deal.
"Five would be great. Five would be the number,'' Rollins said. "I don't think I want six or seven. You start thinking about 39 (years old). Do I want to play at 39?''
The Phillies are typically close-mouthed about their plans, but one league source said he envisioned them trying to keep a Rollins deal to three years. The Phillies are said to like Rollins very much, are mostly understanding about Rollins' own program and seem not to mind a slight overpay for their own stars. One baseball executive saw Rollins getting $56 million for four years, and another said he could see Rollins staying with the Phillies for three years and at "at least'' $12 million a year.
"Right now there is no better place to play baseball, especially in the National League,'' Rollins said of the Phillies the other day. "With that being said, I've been here since I am 17. I never thought of going anywhere else. But am I afraid to leave? Not at all. Nothing's permanent. I don't get caught up to the point where it's either this or nothing.''
Rollins said he has no idea what the Phillies are thinking yet, but sees the years being the key issue. "That's what it's all about,'' he said. "Teams don't want to give you years. They want to keep the uncertainty to a minimum.''
Rollins (@JimmyRollins11) has helped himself by maintaining superior defense and putting up his typical offensive numbers at age 32. They're no better or worse than usual. In 2007 Rollins won the National League MVP. He's isn't that player anymore. But his year this year is very close to his career norm. He's hitting .271 with a .340 on-base percentage and .403 slugging percentage (his career averages are .272, .329 and .433).
Reyes, just 28, is a more dynamic offensive player at this point and could crack the $100 million mark, or even approach the $142 million Carl Crawford got from the Red Sox last offseason. Rollins won't be in that echelon. But that doesn't mean he will be overlooked. He provides positives even Reyes does not. He is a great team leader (he was the first one to correctly point out that the Phillies were "the team to beat'' four years ago, before they seemed to be that). He is one of the biggest winners in the game. And while he's suffered an assortment of injuries over the years, his haven't been as pervasive as Reyes' pains. Free agency should treat him well.
"It's gonna happen. I think every player, if the opportunity comes, looks forward to it. You look forward to saying this is where I want to be,'' Rollins said. "And everyone wants to know what the market would demand. I think it's exciting.''
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