A lot has changed since Jimmy Rollins signed his 5-year, $40 million contract extension on June 13, 2005.
Rollins has won a Most Valuable Player Award. The Phillies have won three straight division titles, two pennants and a World Series, a run of success that has led to almost nightly sellouts at Citizens Bank Park.
That, in turn, has allowed management to lavish rich free-agent contracts to keep Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and to lure players like Roy Halladay and Raul Ibanez.
As a result, on Opening Day last season there were five Phillies with higher base salaries than the $7.5 million the three-time All-Star shortstop pulled down; he also got another $1 million as a prorated portion of his signing bonus.
Management tacitly acknowledged that this could turn into a contentious issue with their longest-tenured player yesterday by announcing that the 2011 option on his contract, worth $8.5 million, has been picked up a year in advance.
"Jimmy has always been an integral part of our club, not only on the field but in the clubhouse as well," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement released by the team. "He has been a big part of the team's success over the past 3 years and there is no doubt that we want him to be a part of that in the future."
Among major leaguers who played at least 135 games at short last season, Rollins trailed Derek Jeter of the Yankees ($20 million), Houston's Miguel Tejada ($13 million) and Washington's Cristian Guzman ($8 million).
He is also scheduled to make a base of $7.5 million in 2010, when Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is scheduled to get a raise to $8 million.
Furcal will go to $12 million in 2011 and Florida's Hanley Ramirez will jump to $11 million.
That means the Phillies could have an interesting offseason after the 2011 season when Rollins, first baseman Ryan Howard, closer Brad Lidge and centerfielder Shane Victorino are all eligible for free agency. In addition, lefthander Cole Hamels and catcher Carlos Ruiz should be a year away from free agency.