SAN DIEGO - The next era of Phillies baseball commenced Wednesday from a sixth-floor suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where a dozen team officials assembled the trade of their iconic shortstop. The dismantling of a once-great roster started with the franchise's all-time hits leader, the man who coronated a spectacular five-year run with three words: "Team to beat."
Jimmy Rollins, the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, will be a Los Angeles Dodger.
Details of the trade - which could involve a player from a separate deal between Los Angeles and Miami - were being finalized Wednesday night, said a source familiar with the talks. The Phillies were expected to receive two minor-league players. Rollins, who earned full no-trade rights by spending 10 seasons in the majors and five with the same team, approved the trade.
Soon after, the team shipped lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo to Pittsburgh for a minor-league pitcher. Cole Hamels is the prize of the trade market. And, after Rollins' reversal, Chase Utley could reconsider his no-trade stance.
"We have nothing to announce," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday evening. Moments before, 10 team officials shuffled into the hallway, bound for an elevator. Amaro handed Scott Proefrock, his top deputy, a folded piece of paper.
The trade was a stunning salvo from Amaro, the embattled GM tasked with jettisoning his veteran players. Rollins, 36, accumulated 2,306 hits in 15 seasons with the Phillies. He won the National League MVP award in 2007, the year his bold January prediction culminated with an inconceivable September comeback.
"I think we are the team to beat in the NL East," Rollins said.
The Phillies were just that for the next five seasons, led by their plucky shortstop who spent enough time in Philadelphia to lose his braided head locks and go bald. He has been a member of the organization since June 4, 1996, the day the Phillies selected him with the 46th overall pick. That means he has spent more time in his life as a member of the Phillies than not.
He met his wife, Johari, because she was an intern in the team's ticket-sales office. They married, had two children, and formed the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation. He raised more than $1 million to help feed families in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
For Rollins, this trade was a sudden about-face. He was reluctant to leave Philadelphia. He predicted days before the 2014 season ended that he would return in 2015.
"I'll be here next year," said Rollins, reclining in a chair inside the Marlins Park visitors' clubhouse.
He will, but not until Aug. 4, when his Dodgers come to Citizens Bank Park.
Amaro, on Monday, said Rollins intended to remain with the Phillies for the final season of his contract. The GM described any potential trade involving Rollins as "a challenge." He said he spoke to Rollins on Wednesday "to tell him the rumors were not true." Did he ask Rollins to waive his no-trade rights?
"That's not for me to talk about," Amaro said.
Only Mike Schmidt played in more Phillies games than Rollins. He ranks among the franchise's top 10 players in runs, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, walks, and stolen bases.
The most indelible Rollins hit happened late one October night in 2009, a game-winning double in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series that split the gap and rolled to the wall in right-center field.
"Rollins has won it!" Scott Franzke yelled to his radio audience. "They stream out of the dugout! Rollins mobbed near third!" Larry Andersen, his broadcast partner, hollered "Yeah!" three times. Rollins pumped his right arm. Fans waved white towels. Everything seemed possible for a team unparalleled in its league.
The Phillies summoned Rollins from triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 17, 2000. He wore No. 29 at Veterans Stadium and batted second, between Reggie Taylor and Bobby Abreu. Rollins walked in his first at-bat. He tripled in his second.
"You certainly don't judge a guy on one game," Terry Francona, then the Phillies manager, said that night, "but it looks like with his speed and what he does at shortstop, it may give us another dimension."
Rollins won four Gold Gloves at shortstop. He made three All-Star Games. His 778 plate appearances in 2007 are a major-league record.
The prospects headed to the Phillies were not revealed Wednesday because one could be coming via the Marlins. Miami and Los Angeles agreed to a six-player trade that reportedly involved a significant cash exchange that needed to be approved by the commissioner's office. Once that trade is finalized, the Phillies and Dodgers could move forward with their agreement.
Rollins' heir apparent is J.P. Crawford, the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft and one of the best infield prospects in baseball. But Crawford, 19, has never played above single A and may not reach the majors until 2016 - at the earliest. Until then, Freddy Galvis could assume shortstop duties.
All the 25-year-old Venezuelan must do is replace the greatest shortstop in Phillies history.
The Shortstop Options
With Jimmy Rollins about to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies will have someone other than J-Roll at shortstop on opening day for the first time since 2000, when Desi Relaford manned the position. Here's what the future of the position could look like for the Phillies:
Freddy Galvis: The slick-fielding 25-year-old Galvis figures to be the opening-day starter in 2015 but probably does not hit well enough to hold down the position long-term.
Andres Blanco: The 30-year-old infielder likely will be on the opening-day roster as the primary backup to Galvis.
J.P. Crawford: The 19-year-old was the team's first-round pick in 2013 and is the projected long-term solution. He probably won't be ready for the big leagues until at least 2016.
- Bob Brookover