Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as represented by agent Dan Lozano, and the Phillies, as represented by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., have done the traditional dance of a free agent and his team when both know closing time is approaching and no better partners are out there.
Not too close, not too distant, but there's no sense peering surreptitiously over the other's shoulder to scan the dance floor for an upgrade, either. They'll be going home together and that's that.
Signing a new contract with the Phils is the way it should go for Rollins, and if he wants a reasonable amount of drama before doing so, befitting his veteran status and accomplishments, he's probably entitled to that.
No more than that, however. He wouldn't get a significantly better deal from another team and, with the exception of making a Bay Area return home with the Giants, there is no compelling reason to hook on with a different organization. (The Giants seem committed to prospect Brandon Crawford at shortstop, anyway, and will continue to be until he hits .190 again.)
There has been speculation that the St. Louis Cardinals, having been unable to make a deal with Lozano's other high-profile free-agent client, Albert Pujols, will use the loose cash now lying around to make a run at Rollins. That's also speculating that the Cards are still speaking to Lozano, although you can hardly blame a man for seeking out his rightful 4 percent of $254 million.
Maybe the Cardinals do have a heightened interest in Rollins, but that doesn't mean they will make an offer that far exceeds the market value for a 33-year-old shortstop whose best years are behind him and who has an increasing tendency to miss games because of injury.
Away from the Phillies, where team president Dave Montgomery likes to keep homegrown talent if possible, that market value is somewhere around $9 million a year. With the Phillies, you might reasonably expect the club to put another $2 million to $3 million per season on that tab.
So, Philadelphia - where he has already earned almost $54 million in 11 seasons - is the logical place for Rollins to play the final years of his career, even if the two sides haven't yet agreed on exactly how many years that might be.
Rollins knows he will be well-paid. He knows he will be comfortable with his surroundings. He knows that the fans have generally accepted that he will never have a 60-walk season. He knows he will get along with the manager. He knows he will be playing for a team with a shot at a championship.
That's a lot to have going for you, and almost every major-league player would take those collected factors as a personal windfall, regardless of the actual decimal points on the contract. Rollins should be given his chance to posture and test the market, but he should also remember what he has here.
On the other side of the negotiating table, it also makes no sense for the Phillies to move past Rollins. It could be that Freddy Galvis, at 22, is ready to play in the major leagues. It could also be that Galvis, coming off the only good offensive season of his career, needs more time, and maybe a lot more.
The options on the market aren't sure things either, and they aren't better than Rollins. You can go out and get Nick Punto or Cesar Izturis or someone in that mold, but what will you have accomplished? If the conversation includes Yuniesky Betancourt, it's probably better to say nothing at all.
Rollins hit .268 last year with only moderate production and he's never again going to approach the .296 with 30 home runs and 94 runs batted in of his 2007 most valuable player season. He is still a remarkable fielder at a crucial position, however, and his value in the clubhouse is underrated. His personal drawbacks - a bit hardheaded on his approach at the plate, capable of occasionally dogging it down the line - haven't improved over time, but neither have they worsened. Look around. That's saying something for an aging former all-star.
The negotiation isn't about salary, really, but about length of contract. If the Phillies want a three-year deal and Rollins wants five, let's just make it four years with a club option, call it five, and move on to something more pressing.
After this process, Rollins might have a little chip on his shoulder, and you can't really blame him. Jose Reyes got $106 million from the Miami Marlins and Rollins will get less than half of that in his next contract. But Reyes is five years younger than Rollins, hits for average, and has great speed. He's not twice as good as Rollins - particularly since he gets injured and appears to be a bad actor - but he did have twice as much leverage on the market, and that's the way that goes.
Rollins will get over it, even if he never fully figures out why all the teams that need shortstops this offseason - and there are a bunch of them - didn't decide they needed him.
Sometimes it's better to not to worry about who doesn't want to dance with you, though. Better to just appreciate the partner you have and enjoy the dance while it lasts.