When Jimmy Rollins signed his extension two Decembers ago, it was announced by the Phillies as a three-year, $33 million contract. But Major League Baseball recognized it as a four-year, $38 million deal for luxury-tax purposes because of the fine print.
In actuality, Rollins does not need a miracle to guarantee his fourth year in 2015 at $11 million. There were three scenarios for his fourth-year option:
1. A vesting option for $11 million
2. A team option for $8 million
3. A player option for $5 million
That vesting option triggers under three stipulations. Rollins must either accrue 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 1,110 plate appearances over 2013-14 and not be on the disabled list at the end of 2014. (Even then, a doctor could deem him ready for 2015 and the option would still activate.)
Rollins netted 666 plate appearances in 2013, which means he will require just 434 in 2014 to be guaranteed $11 million for 2015. Rollins has eclipsed 434 plate appearances in 12 of his 13 full seasons; the lone exception was 2010 when he battled multiple calf injuries and was limited to 394 plate appearances.
Basically, if Rollins is somewhat healthy, he will reach 434. Manager Ryne Sandberg plans to bat Rollins second in his lineup, assuring the longtime shortstop regular at-bats. Rollins produced the worst offensive season of his career in 2013; his .667 OPS was a career-low as were his six home runs.
He turned 35 last month and possesses a full no-trade clause because of his 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the majors and five with the same team). Rollins expressed no desire to waive his no-trade clause last July.
After 2014, the most significant money to come off the books is Kyle Kendrick (he will make close to $7 million during his final year of arbitration) and Mike Adams (due $7 million in 2014 and a long shot to reach his vesting option for 2015).
The big-money contracts do not start to expire until after the 2015 season. Even then, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd could return if they attain their vesting options.