Best Potential Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins
A symbol of unprecedented success for the Philadelphia Phillies may soon be the first casualty in a long rebuilding process.
Jimmy Rollins, the 14-year veteran and former National League MVP, is currently on the trade block in Philadelphia. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Phillies have made it clear to teams that they are very willing to move the 35-year-old shortstop.
If a trade commences, Rollins, afforded a no-trade clause in his most recent contract, would have to sign off on leaving the only professional organization he's ever known. Heading into the 2014 season, Rollins is just 59 hits away from breaking the all-time hits record in Phillies history, per Baseball-Reference.com.
When the day for a decision arrives, Rollins could have multiple suitors to choose from.
Here are the best potential trade packages and landing spots for Jimmy Rollins.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Jimmy Rollins for Justin Smoak
Like-minded leaders reside in Seattle and Philadelphia, making this potential swap realistic and head-scratching at the same time.
Since the end of the 2013 season, the Seattle Mariners have morphed from rebuilding project to win-now team. By signing Robinson Cano to a $240 million deal and adding a pair of players, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, capable of playing first base, outfield or designated hitter, the organization has signaled a strong need to compete in 2014.
With that in mind, Seattle isn't likely to stop now. Although Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik sounds unwilling to move Taijuan Walker in a deal for left-handed ace David Price, it's hard to imagine the win-now M's balking at a deal for a game-changing pitcher later this offseason.
If the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to accept Walker and Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, Seattle fans would have a reason to believe contention is possible in 2014. Subsequently, a need for a veteran shortstop would emerge.
Rollins, despite his advanced age, can handle the position and would bring postseason experience to a franchise that hasn't played in October since 2001.
Although Justin Smoak, the switch-hitting first baseman, would be blocked by Ryan Howard in Philadelphia, it's a much better place to thrive than in Seattle. After Hart and Morrison arrive, Smoak's chances to succeed with the Mariners are all but over.
In Philadelphia, he could become the primary backup to the oft-injured Howard. Furthermore, he would represent an intriguing platoon partner for the one-dimensional Howard.
The difference in Ryan Howard when facing a right-handed pitcher (.998 OPS) compared to a left-handed pitcher (.728 OPS) is night and day. By inserting Smoak in against southpaws, the Phillies could use the best part of his game (.839 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2013) to their advantage.
Seattle's aggressiveness may result in Brad Millers' departure. If it does, Rollins for Smoak benefits both parties.
Jimmy Rollins for Brian Duensing
One year after sending Vance Worley to the Minnesota Twins in a trade for Ben Revere, the Phillies can use a versatile arm for their staff.
In Minnesota, the Twins are attempting to compete in the present while preserving the future. If Philadelphia asked for a major return for Rollins, a deal would be rebuffed within minutes.
However, Rollins for 30-year-old Brian Duensing works for both sides.
Minnesota would receive an offensive upgrade over its current shortstop, 27-year-old Pedro Florimon; continue its busy, franchise-altering offseason that already includes deals for Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes; and add a veteran to surround major prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in spring training.
Philadelphia would receive a lefty capable of starting or relieving, ineligible for free agency until 2016 and just months removed from the best strikeout rate (8.3 K/9) of his career.
Unlike Seattle's outlay for Cano and possible bid for Price, there isn't firepower in the major leagues, outside of Joe Mauer, to intrigue Rollins enough to waive his no-trade clause.
However, if Rollins afforded Minnesota a chance to explain its long-term plan and hopes for Buxton and Sano, there's a chance the veteran shortstop would be willing to join a team that could make a postseason push as early as 2015.
Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown for Jon Niese and Jenrry Mejia
When assessing the needs in both New York and Philadelphia, the Domonic Brown-for-Jon Niese angle of this deal becomes evident. With Jimmy Rollins on the trade block, the division rivals can make a four-player swap into the biggest NL East story this offseason.
In 2013, the New York Mets shortstops embarrassed themselves at the plate, posting a collective .561 OPS. That figure was good for dead last in the National League. Although general manager Sandy Alderson recently implied, per Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger, that the team might bring back Ruben Tejada to start in 2014, the notion came off as an executive playing the market for a good deal.
If Ruben Amaro and Alderson pick up the phone, that good deal will emerge.
Even at the age of 35, Rollins is an upgrade over the shortstops New York trotted out in 2013. Tejada, Omar Quintanilla, Wilfredo Tovar and Justin Turner weren't just lackluster. They were awful and often drew the ire of a desperate fanbase.
As the Mets franchise attempts to creep back over the 81-win barrier for the first time in six years, Rollins can help in 2014. Furthermore, if there's still talent deep down in Tejada, the professional Rollins can guide the young shortstop into eventually becoming an everyday player again.
Jenrry Mejia, once a big prospect, per Baseball America, is now surrounded by question marks. Despite only throwing 82.1 innings in the big leagues, Mejia has been on the minds of NL East fans for years due to multiple top rankings among Mets prospects.
Last season, the hard-throwing righty struck out 27 hitters in 27.1 innings over five starts. At this point, he's little more than a wild card. If he can stay healthy and find a niche as either a reliever or starter, the Phillies could uncover a diamond in the rough who isn't eligible for free agency until 2019.
By then, even if he provides the Mets with a few good seasons, Rollins will be long gone.
Jimmy Rollins for Zoilo Almonte
Despite committing $14.8 million, of a payroll potentially under $189 million, to the shortstop position for 2014, the New York Yankees would be willing to take on Jimmy Rollins for a very reduced rate.
If Philadelphia were interested in a young, switch-hitting outfielder like Zoilo Almonte, the Yankees could land the former MVP shortstop to add to the duo of Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan.
The presence of Jeter, returning for 2014 and nearing the age of 40, should preclude the Yankees from entertaining a deal like this, but their impetuous nature to reach October could necessitate a deal for a sure thing at shortstop.
Last season, Jeter, nursing leg injuries stemming from a 2012 postseason injury, never fully recovered to play for any extended time. After averaging 151 games per year from 1996-2012, Jeter only played in 17 games for the 2013 Yankees.
Rollins, although far from the performer he was just a few seasons ago, is becoming more durable as he ages. Over the past two seasons, only two shortstops in baseball (Starlin Castro and J.J. Hardy) have played more games than Rollins' 316.
If Jeter had a setback or needed significant time at designated hitter to protect his legs, Rollins could slide in and give an offensive boost over Ryan.
From the Phillies' perspective, Almonte is an intriguing switch-hitter with 76 career home runs in the minors. Due to the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the 24-year-old has no home in the Bronx.
In Philadelphia, he can become a bench complement to the outfield assembled.
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