May 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstopJimmy Rollins
(11) fields a ground ball off the bat of Washington Nationals right fielderJayson Werth
(28) (not pictured) in the 5th inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Last August Jimmy Rollins cleared waivers and rumors were surfacing that he would be moved with the Dodgers being one of the prime suitors. Rollins also expressed a desire to stay in Philadelphia and did have a 10/5 leverage.
Rollins’ numbers have slowly diminished since his stellar 2007 MVP campaign, but Rollins still remains a productive player and one whose defensive skills, reflected in UZR and Total Zone, are above average. At age thirty-five Rollins is obviously finishing out the last third of an excellent career.
Is it time for Boston to make a move and pursue Rollins?
The contract is reasonably friendly with 11M this season and a potential vesting of another 11M kicking in for 2015. Certainly in the range of what was being offered to the occupant of shortstop for 2013.
Rollins is currently slashing .261/.339/.405 and does have some pop left with 3/15. Rollins can still move with 5 steals this season and 22 in 2013. What does stick out is his interleague slash for 2013 of .214/.313/.286 and a career .245/.309/.398. Rollins, a traditional leadoff hitter, has a career .330 OBP from that slot, but that degrades to .309 against the AL.
Acquiring Rollins would, at least on the surface, provide some stability and speed at the leadoff position, with an acceptable, but not remarkable, OBP. Rollins would also be a defensive upgrade over the disappointing, at least this far, Xander Bogaerts. Bogearts appears more comfortable at third and that may just be an option. Rollins also brings the pedigree of experience to a team that is the defending champions, and that cannot be dismissed. This would certainly not be Rollins’ first rodeo.
Bringing Rollins in comes with consequences to player development. Such a move would certainly be a signal to Will Middlebrooks and Bogaerts that the 2014 parade has passed by. That mindset could also filter down to Garin Cecchini, currently performing rather favorably at Pawtucket.
Then it comes to: how do you get Rollins? Last I checked, Philadelphia was the City of Brotherly Love and not Brotherly Gifts. There would be a price tag. Would the Red Sox be willing to include slick fielding and developing hitter Deven Marrero? Philadelphia would, most certainly, require a bit more than the Prospect Du Jour. Would just Felix Doubront be enough to seal a deal? In the GM negotiation process you always ask high and Philadelphia will, beyond any doubt, be tossing out names such as Henry Owens and Mookie Betts, which will probably result in a deer in headlights look from Sox management.
Consummating a deal would only be one part of the puzzle with the second part being Rollins. Would he even agree? Is the possibility of returning to the playoffs temptation enough? Rollins is the all time Phillies leader in doubles and is approaching the team record for hits. How important are milestones to Rollins? And, let us not forget, ever since the Phoenicians invented money there is a way to convince a reluctant player.
The Red Sox have been clear on their commitments to Jackie Bradley and Bogaerts and have trumpeted the development in their system. So such a move may have a tinge of panic and backstepping built into it, but for 2014 a Rollins could stabilize the SS and top of the order situation.
And while I am in hot stove mode, how about getting Cliff Lee into the picture?