Jimmy Rollins Trade Scenarios That Would Make Sense for Phillies
Jimmy Rollins has been a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization since the second round of the 1996 amateur draft. If some members of the team's front office have their way, a nearly 18-year tenure could be coming to an awkward close.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Phillies believe it might be time to part with the 2007 National League MVP.
This news comes less than a week after Rollins sat on the bench for three straight Grapefruit League contests. Manager Ryne Sandberg offered "no comment" when initially asked for his reasoning, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
If the Phillies truly want to move on from Rollins, it won't be easy.
With $11 million due to the 35-year-old shortstop in 2014, it will take a team willing to add significant payroll late in spring training or Philadelphia's ownership eating a large chunk of the money still owed. Furthermore, a one-year, $11 million option for 2015 will automatically be in play if Rollins makes 434 plate appearances this season.
As a 10-and-5 rights player (10 MLB seasons, last five with the same team), Rollins can invoke a no-trade clause to veto any deal. With just 60 hits separating the veteran shortstop from the top spot in Phillies franchise history, it's unlikely to happen now.
When broached about a possible deal by CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, Rollins didn't seem keen on the idea.
“I don’t know,” Rollins said. “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.”
These situations, however, have a funny way of working themselves out.
If the Phillies can find a trade partner and Rollins agrees to leave the only team he's ever known, a move could commence.
In return, the Phillies could look for outfield depth, a veteran bullpen arm or a young starting pitcher.
Here are Jimmy Rollins trade scenarios that would make the most sense for the Phillies.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts.
Rollins to the New York Mets for Jacob deGrom
The Phillies aren't the only NL East team with issues at shortstop. In New York, the Mets are dealing with one of spring training's most underwhelming position battles.
In theory, Ruben Tejada is competing against himself for the starting shortstop position at Citi Field. Yet with Wilmer Flores lurking as a fallback option and Stephen Drew still available on the free-agent market, a big move could happen before Opening Day.
Yes, a Rollins-to-New York trade would be strange. As longtime NL East rivals, Rollins hasn't exactly been a fan favorite when the Phillies played in New York.
Right now, that doesn't matter.
If the Mets were willing to sacrifice some of their immense pitching depth, the Phillies could find a team in need of a shortstop and veteran clubhouse presence. Joining a team with an upside—unlike the floundering Phillies—could reinvigorate Rollins over the next two years.
Jacob deGrom, a 25-year-old righty slated for Triple-A Las Vegas, isn't a surefire prospect or future star like Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, per Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. If he was, the Mets wouldn't entertain the thought of a swap.
Philadelphia could buoy the win trajectory of a division rival with this move. More importantly, they could acquire a potential back-end starter in the deal.
Rollins to the Detroit Tigers for Phil Coke
When Jose Iglesias went down with shin injuries, the Detroit Tigers became a logical landing spot for Rollins.
In this deal, the player headed back to Philadelphia—Phil Coke—won't generate anything but snickers from a disenchanted group of season-ticket holders. Over the last three years, Coke has pitched to a 4.52 ERA in 201 innings.
Of course, beggars can't be choosers.
If the Tigers become desperate for a veteran at shortstop, perhaps the Phillies could procure a prospect with some upside. In March, a general manager as smart as Detroit's Dave Dombrowski isn't surrendering much for an expensive, aging shortstop.
Coke isn't impressive, but he's versatile. Since 2011, he's started 14 games and finished 31. With injuries and uncertainty throughout Ryne Sandberg's staff, the Phillies could use the 31-year-old lefty in a variety of roles.
In a perfect world, the three-headed southpaw monster of Coke, Antonio Bastardo and Jake Diekman would give the Phillies a unique advantage in late-game situations.
Rollins to the New York Yankees for Ichiro Suzuki
This deal would kill two birds with one stone.
In New York, the Yankees have too many outfielders and no place to put Ichiro Suzuki. When the season opens, an all-time great hitter with over 4,000 professional hits could be regulated to pinch-running and defensive-replacement duty.
In Philadelphia, John Mayberry Jr. represents an underwhelming option as a backup center fielder, while Bobby Abreu—after spending a year out of the majors—is projected as a left-handed hitter off the bench when the season opens.
With uncertainty surrounding Derek Jeter's ability to play a full season in the field, the Yankees could use a sure-handed shortstop with offensive potential. As poor as Rollins was in 2013—.667 OPS—the numbers are better than anything Brendan Ryan could provide on a daily basis.
Rollins could play for a winning team. Suzuki could find playing time again.
A swap of former stars could be on the cards.
Rollins and Kyle Kendrick to the Cincinnati Reds for Mike Leake
This one requires some imagination.
Why would the Reds—coming off a postseason berth—trade an entrenched member of their starting rotation for Rollins and Kyle Kendrick?
The answer lies in what Cincinnati lost this offseason: Shin-Soo Choo.
No, Rollins' on-base skills will never, ever be confused for the brilliant batting eye of Choo. Yet when looking at the Reds' offense, it's clear that another top-of-the-lineup hitter would enhance the attack.
Unless Billy Hamilton is ready to emerge as an on-base machine, the Reds won't have enough offense ahead of the Joey Votto-Jay Bruce lineup duo. Rollins isn't the answer, but he could be part of a winning solution and allow Brandon Phillips to bat in a run-producing spot in the order.
While Leake sported a much better ERA than Kendrick last year—3.37 compared to 4.70—their peripheral stats paint a picture of very similar arms. According to FanGraphs, Leake actually had a worse FIP (fielding independent pitching) and WAR than Kendrick in 2013.
In this deal, the Phillies could dump Rollins and acquire an arm that yielded better results than Kendrick's last summer—even if the numbers don't fully support the stats. If it's enough to hoodwink the Reds into a deal, it should be enough for Philadelphia.
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