DALLAS — The line was drawn more than a year ago when Ruben Amaro Jr. flatly said he was comfortable with Jimmy Rollins entering 2011 without a new contract. There has been posturing back and forth ever since and it will bubble over at these winter meetings, where the Phillies and Rollins may decide there are no compromises to be made.
Shortly after the season, the 33-year-old Rollins said he wanted a five-year contract. The Phillies, Amaro said, were content to let the market take shape. They want to re-sign Rollins, a priority stated by Amaro ever since the offseason started.
But here in Texas, where emotions can determine roster moves in an electric setting with all of baseball present, there is some doubt about Rollins' future in Philadelphia.
The Phillies met with Dan Lozano, Rollins' agent, late Sunday night. Early Monday morning, rumors circulated the lobby of the Anatole Hilton of the Phillies' interest in third baseman Aramis Ramirez, a free agent. The Palm Beach Post first reported those rumors and FoxSports.com later added that Placido Polanco was being "actively shopped" by the Phillies.
Those rumors, it appears, were a direct effect of the meeting between Amaro and Lozano. While Rollins is the top shortstop remaining on the market after Jose Reyes' six-year, $106 million deal, his known potential suitors are limited. A five-year deal could be a dream, especially considering Reyes is five years younger and signed for six.
But a baseball source who spoke with Rollins said the shortstop is standing firm on his demand. The source said, if anything, the Reyes deal made the Rollins camp believe his value increased.
"I gave the Phillies a discount the first time," Rollins told the source.
Then again, Rollins may not find an option more attractive than the Phillies' offer. Milwaukee is interested in Rollins, but their top priority is re-signing Prince Fielder. Other teams that need shortstops like St. Louis, Atlanta and San Francisco have expressed a desire to fill the position on the cheap.
It's all part of the negotiating process. No one said it would be amicable, and these meetings are proof. The staring contest will continue.